Irvine CubeSat students acing the space race
It’s the result of a year of hard work by 25 to 30 high school students from each of Irvine’s six high schools, all working together in the CubeSat Program, in partnership with industry experts to design, assemble, test, and hopefully launch a miniaturized satellite for space research made from commercial off-the-shelf components for its electronics and structure.
The team is called Irvine01, and they’ve been working together since early 2016 to launch a full-functioning 30-pound nanosatellite (approximately the size of a milk carton cut in half) 350 miles high into orbit around the earth. Each high school’s team is responsible for a different part of the satellite – avionics, communication, propulsion, etc. – with each group working after school and with leading scientists in various disciplines.
Irvine CubeSat is one of two high schools chosen by NASA among 34 teams selected to participate in the prestigious program. The selected spacecrafts are eligible for placement on a launch as auxiliary payloads on planned NASA or commercial space flight missions, or deployments from the International Space Station.
The Irvine01 team is culturally diverse and 35 percent of its members are female. Nationwide, similar STEM programs average only 22 percent.
Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF), a nonprofit group that raises money for the Irvine Unified School District, gave $150,000 in seed money to launch the project, with the hopes to raise a total of $500,000. FivePoint, Microsemi, Ingersoll Rand/Trane, Cisco, and Resilient were also sponsors of the Irvine team.