The night before their satellite was launched into space aboard a NASA rocket, members of the past and present of Brown Space Engineering gathered to celebrate the past seven years with a cookout, said Anand Lalwani & # 39; 18, leader of the team of the group in charge of solar energy and construction of the battery. The launch was exciting and bittersweet for the team, marking the culmination of thousands of work hours for hundreds of students, he said.
The experience was overwhelming at the same time, as the team was not sure if the rocket would actually launch, said Max Monn GS, one of the founders of the project who also worked on the manufacture and flash for the team. Storms had already delayed the launch, said Hunter Ray & # 39; 18, the project manager. Many of the group's leaders said there was a sixth chance the rocket would take off, said Noah Joseph & # 39; 18, the leader in computer-aided design.
Their fears eased six seconds after 4:44 am last Monday, when the rocket The BSE satellite, called EQUiSat, successfully began its ascent into space, said Manav Kohli & # 39; leader in avionics hardware.
Team members saw the launch four miles from the launch site on Wallops Island, Virginia. Locals and visitors from other states joined the team to witness the event, Joseph said.
Calling the "spectacular" launch would be insufficient, said Kohli. "The whole sky lit up in orange, it was beautiful," Joseph said. "What you miss a lot when you see a video release is … the sound, you do not understand how it feels, you can feel the rocket physically because of how strong it is," Kohli said.
The rocket took about 10 seconds to disappear from view, Kohli said. The team celebrated with champagne, said Lalwani.
EQUiSat will arrive at the International Space Station on Thursday, Monn said. From there, it will be launched sometime between the end of June and the beginning of August and will remain in space for a year and a half, Monn said. The satellite was planned to test lithium iron batteries, which are somewhat uncommon in spacecraft, The Herald reported earlier .
The months leading up to the launch were "hectic but exciting," Joseph said. Most of the final work took place between the beginning of the spring semester and March 21, when the satellite was delivered for launch, Kohli said. Some members were still making last-minute adjustments before launch, such as coding updates to the website to make sure the countdown timer worked correctly, said Hannah Varner & # 39; 14. Even after deploying the satellite and starting operations, students will go to great lengths to ensure that the team can communicate with it, Monn said.
The team faced many challenges in the creation of EQUiSat, especially the fact that its leadership is completely composed of students, said Lalwani. "None of us had built a satellite before, or anything like that," he said. Revealing how accessible space can be was also an important part of the project, Kohli said.
The project shows that space engineering is not far from the reach of space enthusiasts, The Herald reported earlier . The EquiSat was relatively inexpensive to build, made for only $ 3,776, said Ray. If people want to create their own satellite, they can visit the BSE website to see exactly how it was created. EQUiSat will also be trackable from space and is even equipped with an LED light so that people can see it from Earth, Varner said.
Students could join BSE to work on the satellite on the first day of their first year, Kohli said. Zach Nado & # 39; 16 joined the team as a sophomore after his curiosity was awakened by a poster on Barus and Holley. At that time, BSE had recently received the launch contract with NASA, so the project quickly went from being a hypothetical hypothesis to something more specific, he said.
Brant Hoffman & # 39; 15 initially was attracted by the difficulty of the engineering problem that the project presented. When he joined, he found a family and a community that finally kept him involved.
BSE is now working on a number of other projects. The so-called FutureSat, the next satellite the team has planned, is still in the brainstorming phase, said Joseph.