Student satellite successfully launched

Students from six Irvine high schools built a satellite now orbiting Earth

by TOM BERG

A satellite built by Irvine students launched into space on Sunday.

The 2.3-pound, solar-powered satellite, called a CubeSat, is about twice the size of a Rubik’s Cube. From its orbit 232 miles above Earth, it will beam back photos of Venus and other celestial bodies to help calculate distances to stars.

The satellite rode into space aboard the first commercial launch of aerospace startup Rocket Lab, which carried seven small satellites on its mission called “It’s Business Time.”

Irvine students hope to launch a second satellite into space Nov. 19 aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California. That mission, named SSO-A: Smallsat Express, is the largest single rideshare mission from a US-based launch vehicle with 64 spacecraft from 34 different organizations and 17 different countries.

Irvine’s “CubeSat STEM Program” was created in 2015 to inspire the next generation of innovators – emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM.