Eight students at the University of Warwick (Coventry, UK) have taken their first step towards a space launch by sending a prototype satellite equipped with cameras 30km into the stratosphere.
The successful test launch paves the way towards a longer-term plan to put a small satellite, built almost entirely by undergraduate students in the School of Engineering, into low-earth orbit at around 2,000 km.
The test launch of the the so-called CubeSat satellite took place at an approved site in Welshpool, where a high-altitude weather balloon lifted the satellite to an altitude of approximately 30km before it made a parachute descent to the ground.
For its test launch, the CubeSat carried three cameras, a radio communications link and a GPS tracker to aid recovery. It was designed to withstand temperatures down to -60C and transmit data and images up to a range of 30 miles.
The successful launch and recovery means the students can now set their sights on their longer-term aim of launching it into space.
The industry sponsors of the Warwick University Satellite (WUSAT) project are Roke Manor Research, Lyncolec, Solidworks, Thales, ITP Engines UK, National Instruments, Harwin and RS.
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-- Dave Wilson, Vision Systems Design