Elementary School Students Built a Miniature Satellite

Elementary School Students Built a Miniature Satellite

In May 2016, the pre-kindergarten through 8th grade students of St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia watched as the CubeSat they had designed and built, called the the STMSat-1, was deployed into space. A CubeSat is a miniature spacecraft that's generally designed to perform only one task -- in this case, photograph the Earth and transmit those images back to us. The device's small size helps lower the cost of space missions while helping engineers complete them more quickly, and the students' successful mission shows that CubeSats have a future in education as well. All 400 students at the school participated in the three-year project, which included such specialized tasks as soldering electronics, operating the communication equipment, and conducting high-altitude tests.

02:49

from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    A CubeSat is a standard for a small spacecraft. Cubesats can be as small as 10 x 10 x 10 cm and as large as 30 x 20 x 10 cm. (0:33)

  • 2

    Because they're so small, CubeSats let engineers get projects off the ground more quickly. They can also cost up to 30 times less than traditional missions. (0:54)

  • 3

    CubeSats are limited in what they can do. This limitation means the one thing they can do, they can do very well. (1:03)

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