Students from the University of Alabama in Huntsville are analyzing data from flight monitoring equipment they built that was sent into space in June.
The payload rocketed to space aboard a Terrier-Prion rocket out of NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on June 24, one of 33 university student projects on board.
“We were really happy it worked, and we had data available the same day it launched,” says Ben Campbell, a student working on his master’s degree in aerospace systems engineering who is TSRG’s founder and project manager. Campbell, a graduate research assistant who says his career goal is to become an astronaut, used his undergraduate spacecraft development experience and connections to teach the team to produce the device and then to get it into space.
“At the moment, we have a large collection of raw data that was recorded by all the sensors, and we are now in the process of correlating everything together to basically produce the big picture, or life story, of what our payload experienced during the mission,” Campbell says. “We have things worked out for the initial ascent phase of the launch, where we have clear data indicating events such as the operation of the two stages that were used on the launch vehicle, and our crossing of the Karman line — which is the boundary of space that’s about 100 kilometers above sea level — at around 114 seconds after liftoff.”
The last UAH student-led project to go to space with the SHC’s ChargerSat-1 in 2013.
The new payload was designed so students could use a collection of systems familiar to them from past work, such as common sensors, microcontrollers and other electrical components, and apply them to a spacecraft to be flown in suborbital space with all the design and manufacturing considerations that go into making a payload flight-ready.
Campbell has been working for over a year on TSRG, making use of contacts he made while in three CubeSat programs and two sounding rocket projects as a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.