High School Students Launch Satellite Into Space

The tiny orbiter underwent seven years of designs before it finally blasted off into the great beyond

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A satellite designed by Virginia high school students blasted off into space Tuesday aboard a Minotaur I rocket launched from the state’s Eastern Shore.

The satellite, called TJ³Sat, was designed by students at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, Virginia. More than 50 students at TJ, as the math and science magnet school is known for short, worked on the satellite for seven years before it became the first student-designed and built satellite to launch into space.

According to the Washington Post, TJ³Sat, which is weighs about two pounds and can fit in the palm of a hand, will orbit the earth at an altitude of about 310 miles, receiving messages the students send into space and then rebroadcasting them via radio waves. Ham radio listeners can tune into the satellite’s messages at 437.32 MHz +/- 0.013.

The satellite could remain in low-Earth orbit for as long as two years, but it will eventually fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. But it won’t be such a sad occasion for this band of young space aficionados — even its destruction comes with a but of humor. When TJ³Sat starts disintegration, the voice synthesizer is programmed to send the message, “I’m melting,” as its final broadcast.

[Washington Post]