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MSU Home :: Academics :: NEWS - Two space launches from two continents in two days


Two space launches from two continents in two days

2 Space Flights Picture


 Members of the MSU’s KySat-2 Design Team from left, Dr. Ben Malphrus,  Zach Taulbee, Kevin Brown, Travis Miller, Jennafer Grindrod, Murphy Stratton  and  Twyman Clements, are shown with the flight model and engineering models of KySat-2 





This week is a big week for Morehead State University, for Kentucky and for space research.

MSU’s Space Science Center staff and students and their partners are launching two satellites from two different continents within two days of each other. On Nov. 19, KySat-2 a nanosatellite collaboration between MSU, the University of Kentucky, and Kentucky Space LLC., will launch from NASA's mid-Atlantic launch range in Wallops Island Virginia. Two days later on November 21, UniSat-5- a 40 kg microsatellite developed as a collaboration between MSU, the University of Rome La Sapienzia Aerospace Engineering School a commercial spin-off called the Group of Astrodynamics for the Use of Space Systems (GAUSS, Inc.) will launch from Yasny, Russia.

KySat-2 is a 1.3 kg (approximately 3 pound) CubeSat whose primary mission is technical demonstration of a stellar gyroscope-- an innovative star imager that will use successive images of stars and mathematical models to determine the spacecraft dynamics. KySat-2 will launch as a secondary payload on the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS-3) mission on an Orbital Sciences Minotaur rocket. ORS-3 will deploy eleven small research satellites for nine universities, one high school and one NASA Center. KySat-2 is a replacement for KySat -1 which was launched in March 2011 as a secondary payload on NASA's Glory Mission but failed to reach orbit as the NASA Taurus A launch vehicle underwent catastrophic failure. Both KySat-1 and KySat-2 were selected for flight by NASA's Educational Launch of a Nanosatellite (ELaNa) program. The KySat-2 satellite was built exclusively in Kentucky-- the satellite bus, mechanical structures, electronic power systems, solar arrays, communications systems and antenna systems were built in Morehead while the flight computer and payload was built at the UK -- under the Kentucky Space partnership that was established in 2006.

The primary mission of UniSat-5 is to flight validate innovative space hardware (including a cutting-edge flight computer) to launch secondary payloads and to provide training for university students. UniSat-5 will be launched on a Dnepr rocket (a modified SS-18 ICBM) by the Kosmotras- a jointly held Russian-Ukrainian company that now manages the highly successful series of Dnepr Rockets. Students and staff of MSU’s Space Science Center developed many of the UniSat-5 spacecraft subsystems.

UniSat-5 also will serve as a "mother ship" and after 18 days in orbit will 8 smaller satellites built by aerospace companies and universities. One of these nanosatellites, Eagle-1 is a PocketQub, and will be among the smallest spacecraft ever flown.

A new satellite standard was proposed in 2009 by Robert Twiggs, professor of space science, for a satellite even smaller than the CubeSat called PocketQub. This Fempto-class satellite is a 5 cm cube and can fit in a pocket. The PocketQub leverages the CubeSat standard and also leverages the revolution in the miniaturization of electronics. PocketQub™s will ultimately have a wide range of applications including: space network nodes, sensor platforms, and miniature satellite constellations that are inexpensive, redundant, and spatially organized. The Eagle-1 spacecraft, designed and built by Twiggs, his students, Dr. Garrett Jernigan and students at Sonoma State University in California, is designed to provide a component testbed for PocketQub technologies, primarily among them being a de-orbit system that also increases the spacecraft radar cross section. Eagle-1, weighing approximately 430 grams (just under one pound) is one of four PocketQubs and four CubeSats that will be deployed from UniSat-5. The UniSat-5 mission is historic in that it will deploy the world's smallest satellites (PocketQubs) and the first satellites ever built and flown by the countries of Peru and Pakistan.

The Space Science Center has sent teams to both launches to cover the launch and early operations (LEOP). Jeff Kruth, electrical engineer, Bob Kroll, space systems engineer, and Eric Thomas, star theater director and microfabrication technician, are at the NASA facility in Wallops Island Virginia with a group of 12 space science students working the LEOP. Dr. Malphrus and Kevin Brown are in Yasny Russia working the LEOP for the UniSat-5/Eagle-1 mission. Mission operations for all three satellites will be conducted by students from the MSU’s Mission Operations Center housed in Smith-Booth Hall.

These launches follow the successful launch of Morehead State's first satellite, the Cosmic X-Ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN) that was launched in September 2012.

Dr. Malphrus indicated that "if the launch dates hold, by the end of next week there will be three satellites orbiting the Earth that were built in Kentucky. This represents an extraordinary accomplishment for the Morehead State University staff and students, for our collaborators, and for our partners Kentucky Space, NASA Kentucky and indeed for the Commonwealth".

For more information, contact the Space Science Center at 606-783-2381. 


Kentucky Space LLC (KS) announced Wednesday that at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night KentuckySat-2 ( KySat-2) was launched from the NASA Launch Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. Shortly after liftoff the spacecraft was successfully inserted into orbit at 500 km x 500 km @ 40.5 degrees. Ground operation stations in Kentucky, the U.S. and Japan have reported receiving data packets from the satellite indicating that systems are functioning normally.

KySat-2 is a 1.3 kg (approximately 3 pound) CubeSat class satellite whose primary mission involves a technical demonstration of a stellar gyroscope -- an innovative imager and mathematical models to determine spacecraft dynamics. KySat-2 was launched as a secondary payload on the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS-3) mission on an Orbital Sciences Minotaur rocket. KySat-2 was selected for flight by NASA's Educational Launch of a Nanosatellite (ELaNa) program. The KySat-2 spacecraft was designed and built exclusively in the state by Kentucky Space along with its partners Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky. Students at these universities made up the core of the spacecraft design/build team. “This launch represents another major milestone in the growth, impact and reach of Kentucky Space” said Twyman Clements, KS mission director.
The mission team from Kentucky Space, including students and faculty from the universities were on-site for the launch.

Kentucky Space is a private nonprofit enterprise focused on entrepreneurial, educational and commercial space solutions. 



Nadeera Ekanayake
Nadeera Ekanayake, from Sri Lanka, is a graduate student in the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology(SLIIT). She has more than 3 years of industrial experience working as a software engineer for an ERP software development company. Nadeera joined MSU in spring 2012 and works as a graduate assistant in the AET department.

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