Arizona State University wins bid to send a small satellite into space

Thanks to students at Arizona State University, people will soon be able to control a satellite.

The Light Cube satellite is small. So small, in fact, it fits in a person's hand. Its most important part is smaller than a person's pinky.

"You’ll see a very short flash that’s about as bright as a typical star," said Danny Jacobs, Associate Director of Interplanetary Initiative at ASU.

Essentially, the satellite will hitch a ride on a rocket headed for the International Space Station, potentially as early as late next year. Once it’s in orbit. Jacobs says anyone can track it, and then use an amateur radio to send it a signal. Once it’s received, it will shine bright for a few micro seconds.

"One of the things we’re trying to do with this is make it so it requires almost no technical expertise," said Jacobs. "This is the kind of thing that anybody can get with very little training or investment capital. Any elementary school can afford to do this."

Dozens of ASU students worked on it for the last three years, and they’ve gotten international help. Vega Space Systems says university students in Mexicali are designing the antennas so the cube can receive radio signal, which has been a little tricky because of the size limitations.

"When it’s deployed, that’s when we deploy the antennas, but it has to be after deployment or it’s not going to work and it’s not going to fit in the container," said Jaime Sanchez de la Vega with Vega Space Systems.

The satellite should be in the sky for people to control in 2023.

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