Irvine students built and launched two satellites that now orbit 300 miles above Earth.

Irvine students launch second satellite in a month

High school students launch second satellite into orbit

by TOM BERG

Irvine students recently made history with the launch of two satellites in less than a month.

“We did it again,” University High School STEM/Engineering teacher Tinh Tran said after the second satellite lifted into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket. “We earned our place in the history of space exploration.”

Late last year, students launched IRVINE 01, a 2.3-pound, solar-powered CubeSat, about twice the size of a Rubik’s Cube. From its orbit more than 300 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 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 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 —that’s unprecedented even for university academia and corporations,” Tran said.