After becoming the first Canadian university to build and launch a satellite into space, the University of Alberta’s team is ready to do it again.
The university found out on Friday it is one of 15 universities and institutions in Canada that’s receiving funding from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), for its Canadian CubeSat Project.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the students who will get to, from the beginning to end, design a spacecraft,” U of A electrical and computer engineering professor Duncan Elliott said.
The national project gives Canadian post-secondary students a chance to participate in a real space mission.
Students will design, build and operate their own cube satellites, which will be launched into space. Each satellite will be designed for a particular purpose.
“That’s really really great that we get to go on this journey with other universities, and even for a second time around with a new wave of students working on such a cool project,” U of A faculty of science student Logan Fairgrieve-Park said.
The University of Alberta’s satellite will have a personal meaning for some of the students.
“This one will do measurements in space weather as well as monitoring for us the conditions [that] could lead to forest fires. It’s quite important to a lot of students who have losses in Fort McMurray,” Elliott said.
“It’s a really really cool project to be a part of,” Fairgrieve-Park said. “The timelines are over so many years and when you finally see these projects through and you see how they develop, it’s a really great feeling. You can tell everyone is just very excited about it.”
In 2017, the University of Alberta team created a cube satellite that was launched into space.
The satellite, known as Ex-Alta 1, was launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 18, 2017.
Roughly the size of a shoebox, Ex-Alta 1 was part of an international cube satellite mission called QB50 that involved 38 other satellites pieced together at universities across the globe.
The launch marked the first time a spacecraft had been built in the province of Alberta and sent into space.
There were more than 50 undergraduates, graduates and faculty members on the team. They spent seven years working on the Ex-Alta 1 satellite project.
The project could provide insight on ways to better design equipment on the ground to avoid the massive impact of a big solar event.
Elliott said about half of the components in the first satellite were designed from scratch at the U of A, but all of the components for the latest satellite will be designed at the university.
“Not only that, but we’ll be making those open source so other universities around the world will be able to make much less expensive, much more customized satellites with the best documentations, the actual designs,” he said.
The second satellite is scheduled to launch in 2020 or 2021.