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Live Mic: BYU and NASA set to blast off into space

FILE: Astronaut Ed White during the first American spacewalk. BYU students will see their hard work go into space with NASA in the near future. (Photo: NASA)

SALT LAKE CITY — Brigham Young University (BYU) engineering students have created a cube satellite that will launch into space on an NASA mission later this year.

Dr. David Long, professor of electrical and computer engineering at BYU, joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to explain the project started, designed and built by students.

“It’s a satellite that is designed to take pictures of another satellite,” said Long. “It’s a spacecraft selfie cam.”

NASA and BYU

“Tell me how big a deal this actually is?” Lee asked.

“It’s actually a pretty small deal,” Long said.

Long said more than 60 students over a five-year period participated in the project of launching two 10-centimeter cubes into space. It’s the first time the university has designed and built its own spacecraft, he said.

The NASA program consists of universities proposing and undergraduate students building instruments to fly on aircraft, balloons or in space.

“We proposed to fly this selfie camera. The NASA review board was enamored with our project, and they gave us funding. I used to work at NASA-JPL so I kind of knew this stuff,” the professor said. 

He said the cube satellite (CubeSat) has a camera on each face to create a spherical image of its own deployment from the launch vehicle in order to inspect the outside of the spacecraft for safety and repair issues.

“This is a prototype-demonstration mission,” Long said.

He doesn’t know the precise launch date but anticipates it for the end of this month or early December. Long said as soon as the images from space are available, they will be posted for the public to view.

Long said the BYU students involved in the project put their names on the spacecraft so they will be floating up there  in space.

Read more about BYU’s first mission into space here.

 Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.