Crash & learn: Big Island-boosted satellite project will get second launch – Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-09-20 08:59:49 –

The satellite, built with the support of Big Island students, was destroyed during a rocket launch earlier this month, but the project will soon have a second chance.

In 2019, the University of Hawaii at Manoa Institute of Astronomy developed a small satellite called the CubeSat in collaboration with the Hilo-based Museum of Science and Technology of Hawaii. The satellite will be launched into space on the first flight of an unmanned Firefly Alpha. A rocket developed by the private company Firefly Aerospace.

The Firefly Alpha was launched on September 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the CubeSat.

Within three minutes, the rocket and its entire payload were destroyed after a catastrophic engine failure.

“This was the first launch of the Firefly Alpha, but in fact it hasn’t had the best track record,” said Amber Imai-Hong, an aeroelectronics engineer at the Hawaii Space Flight Institute at UH-Manoa, who developed the satellite. Says.

Despite the loss of the satellite, Hiroshi Imai said HSFL and HSTM are working on a replacement that will be part of the Firefly Alpha 2 payload.

Both satellites, called Hiapo and Hiapo 2.0, aim to measure the Earth’s magnetic field while acting as an introduction to aerospace design for students.

Imai-Hong said Hiapo was developed after HSTM was selected as one of 26 participants to provide a 10 cubic centimeter satellite to the Firefly Alpha payload. To develop satellites cheaply, HSTM has partnered with HSFL to create Project POKE, an initiative to develop low-cost CubeSat kits.

Most CubeSats cost about $ 120,000 to build, but Hiroshi Imai said the Hiapo was built with spare parts.

“As you can imagine, combining spare electronics doesn’t always give you the results you want,” says Hiroshi Imai. “But we got over it.”

In 2020, UH-Manoa received a $ 500,000 NASA grant to develop a low-cost CubeSat kit for use as an undergraduate project. Hiapo 2.0 will be built using one of these kits, Imai-Hong said.

Imai-Hong said more than 100 UH students participated in the construction of Hiapo from the design stage to the final test.

Meanwhile, HSTM director Christian Wong said about 30 Hilo junior and senior high school students took part in a virtual lesson to learn about satellites.

Heather Bottom, an engineer at Imai-Hong and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, taught students about design and project management skills, even with the clean room provided by UH. Through this process, Wong decided on the name of the satellite. “Hiapo” means “eldest son” and reflects the relationship between the mentor who made the satellite and the student, Hiroshi Imai said.

Hiroshi Imai said he has high expectations for the Firefly Alpha 2, which he said could be released later this year.

“But no matter what happens, we will learn more,” said Hiroshi Imai. “None of this is wasted.”

“Even if it ended badly, the launch was still great,” Wong said. “It was a great day. I was very proud to see the rocket on the pad because I knew there was a satellite we had been working on for two years.”

Send an email to Michael Brestovansky (mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com).

Crash & learn: Big Island-boosted satellite project will get second launch Source link Crash & learn: Big Island-boosted satellite project will get second launch

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