Satellite built by VT students to launch into space next week

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Friday morning, Virginia Tech officials announced that a satellite built by undergraduate students is scheduled to be launched into space next Wednesday.

"A group of Virginia Tech undergraduate students recently delivered their small satellite to Houston to be incorporated into NanoRacks’ commercially developed CubeSat deployer. Virginia Tech’s satellite, along with two satellites from other Virginia universities, is scheduled to launch on the payload section of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket and then will be headed to the International Space Station," officials said in a statement.

A team of 50 undergraduate students from the College of Engineering and College of Science developed the satellite at the Center of Space and Engineering Research.

All three of the satellites will be deployed into orbit simultaneously by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

According to the release, the satellites developed by Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia should orbit for up to two years. While the Old Dominion University's satellite is expected to orbit for up to four months.

“Designing and manufacturing instrumentation for operation in space is extremely challenging,” said Kevin Shinpaugh, the team’s faculty advisor. “It requires a lot of precision and you need to be particularly careful with construction and electronic wiring. If there is an issue once the satellite is deployed, you can’t go up there to make a quick fix.”

The initiative began in June 2016 as part of the Virginia CubeSat Constellation, a collaborative program between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and four of its member universities which includes: Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia and Hampton University.

“I’m super excited to see this come full circle, all the way from development to the launch,” said Brodnax. “We’ve all been working so hard, and there have been many late nights and staying in the lab on weekends... We all just came together and worked that much harder because everyone really wanted to see it completed."