Irvine students launch second satellite in a month

Students from six Irvine high schools made history with the launch of their second satellite in less than a month.


Irvine students made history Dec. 3 with the launch of their second satellite in less than a month.

IRVINE02 lifted into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket just three weeks after the launch of IRVINE 01.

This is the first-time ever that students from the same school district have launched two cube satellites in one year.

“We did it again,” said University High School STEM/Engineering teacher Tinh Tran, who is also one of the CubeSat teacher leaders. “We earned our place in the history of space exploration.”

In November, students launched IRVINE 01, a 2.3-pound, solar-powered CubeSat, about twice the size of a Rubik’s Cube. From its orbit 312 miles above Earth, it beams photos of Venus and other celestial bodies to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, to help calculate distances to stars.

IRVINE02 is a more advanced twin version of IRVINE01, containing electric thrusters and a high power laser for rapid transmission of data down to the Earth ground station.

“We hope that all students will see this example and know it’s possible to build and launch a satellite into space as an IUSD student,” said IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker.

Irvine’s CubeSat STEM Program was created in 2015 to inspire the next generation of innovators. It includes students from Irvine High, Northwood High, Portola High, University High, Woodbridge High and Beckman High School.

“Two high school satellites orbiting Earth in three years of project work,” said Tran, “that’s unprecedented even for university academia and corporations.”

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