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Nebraska students complete precursor to NASA satellite launch

Student preparing for high-altitude balloon launch{p}{/p}
Student preparing for high-altitude balloon launch

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NASA has selected a small research satellite designed by Nebraska students to be placed in Earth's orbit. Saturday morning, the Big Red Satellite team got one step closer to launching their CubeSat into space.

"On behalf of the team, welcome today to our laboratory," said Doc Chaves, member of the BRS Advisory Team.

A group of middle school, high school and college students were hard at work at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, preparing to test payloads during a high-altitude balloon launch.

"We want to see how they react in the upper atmosphere," said Elsa Meyer, BRS President. "We have one that will measure radiation. We have another testing solar panels, and it will be lots of fun."

This is a precursor to the NASA CubeSat Initiative, providing the team with an opportunity to gather data before building the actual satellite.

"There are a lot of similar things we are doing," said Meyer. "We're working with electrical boards and programming it. We're learning about public speaking, which is all very important for our CubeSat as well. They are very overlapped and while it's not a satellite and it's not going into space, it will help us get a lot of experience."

Despite some struggles with the wind, the balloon took flight around 10 a.m.

"We worked really hard on our payloads," said Meyer. "We had to design them and build them and learn how to build them before we could build them. It's really great to have it all come to one day."

Saturday's event also served a chance for recognition of their NASA selection with remarks from Congressman Don Bacon and former astronaut Clayton Anderson

"When I went to school in Ashland-Greenwood, I learned about the scientific process, and that process excited me so much that today I'm a retired astronaut," said Anderson. "But the thing that these kids are doing is they're actually using their hand. They're using their hands, their minds, their bodies to build, to do and to make that process real and to me, that's the most important aspect of this entire thing."

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The team will now review the information gathered during this field test and put it towards the creation of their CubeSat, which could launch as soon as next year.

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