Athens, GA (WGCL) -- For the first time in history, the University of Georgia is going into outer space.
Inside the University of Georgia’s small satellite research laboratory is where 30 students are building small satellites to send into space.
The satellites may be small but they will be more powerful than the flight computers for the Apollo moon mission. The impressive student-built and student-led project has humble beginnings: a kickstarter campaign that caught the attention of UGA faculty.
“We decided to kickstart a 10,000 satellite project at UGA,” says Caleb Adams. “(We) made some initial designs and said ‘hey, we’ve got these designs. Do you want us to do anything?’ We just wanted to make a sputnik. And they had some great ideas.”
The great ideas were put on paper and the students went on to compete in national competitions where they earned funding from both NASA and the U.S. Air Force to build two satellites. Dr. David Cotten says the Air Force competition is one they are particularly proud of.
“We were the first school to win without an aerospace program and the first school to win on our first try,” said Dr. Cotten.
Hollis Neel is one of the co-founders of the project and the system engineer for the NASA satellite, a small, cube shaped satellite they’ve named SPOC.
The first satellite will be deployed from the International Space Station and will specifically monitor Georgia’s coastline and could provide data that will help state farmers make better informed decisions.
A launch clock counting down in the lab is constant reminder of all the work that needs to be done, but building the satellites is just the beginning.
The satellites will launch in 2019 and 2020. The team hopes this is just the beginning of UGA having a permanent presence in space.
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