A rocket carrying a cube satellite created by a University of Alberta team was successfully launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida Tuesday morning.
“It was perfect,” Charles Nokes said. “It was just absolutely spectacular.”
Nokes is one of the more than 50 AlbertaSat team members who worked on the Ex-Alta 1 satellite project. It took seven years and countless hours of work to create the satellite, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, and get it ready to launch.
Nine team members, including Nokes, were able to watch the launch in person.
“We watched the rocket as the countdown was happening and all of sudden we started seeing smoke coming out the back and this big massive white rocket just slowly starts hovering in the air and off it went.
“It went right away, at the beginning of the launch window, just right on time — a perfect, beautiful launch — and the capsule with our satellite in it is now in space,” Nokes said.
It was sent on an Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:11 a.m. EDT. In four days, the cube satellite will stop briefly at the International Space Station before making its final trip into low Earth orbit to begin monitoring space weather. The Ex-Alta 1 could spend two years in space.
The primary purpose of the satellite is to study the effects of interactions between the energy of the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field.
Tuesday’s launch represents the first time a spacecraft has been built in the province of Alberta and sent into space.
“We’re very emotional,” Nokes said several hours after the launch. “We were all pretty emotional and then very excited.
“You kind of get that adrenaline rush and that adrenaline crash. It was great.”
The AlbertaSat team — made up of undergrad, graduate students and faculty – hopes the launch will inspire others.
“We did it! Alberta has put a satellite in space now. It’s totally possible,” Nokes said. “We’ve shown that we can do it. It’s something that kids and anybody looking for careers in space, we can do it.”
Watch below: On Tuesday, the first-ever made-in-Alberta satellite will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The team behind it is the students and faculty at the University of Alberta. Emily Mertz has the details.