At approximately 8:15 p.m. last night, Orbital Sciences launched the first satellite built by high school students, a team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.
The satellite, known as TJ3SAT, is a CubeSat that has been designed, built and tested by more than 50 students at Thomas Jefferson and represents nearly seven years of work. Orbital Sciences mentored the students and provided financial support, as well as space testing facilities.
TJ3SAT measures 10 x 10 x 11 cm and weighs approximately two pounds. Its payload consists of a voice synthesizer that converts text to voice. Once it enters Earth orbit, students from around the world will be able to freely access the satellite by sending strings of text to the TJ3SAT website. Approved messages will be transmitted to the satellite, where they will be converted to voice signals and transmitted back to Earth using amateur radio frequency.
TJ3SAT launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-OB at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. MARS is one of only four commercial sites approved by the FAA for orbital space launches, and offers an ideal trajectory for Earth orbit insertion.
Orbital Sciences launched TJ3SAT with 27 other CubeSats aboard a Minotaur I rocket as part of its ORS-3 mission for the U.S. Air Force.
The collaborative partnership between Orbital Sciences and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology illustrates Virginia’s position at the forefront of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), preparing students for careers in advanced fields, such as aerospace.
Use the highlighted links to learn more about the TJ3SAT program and Virginia’s leadership in the aerospace industry.
The Minotaur I rocket, carrying the first satellite built by high school students, launches from MARS at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Photo courtesy of NASA Wallops/Chris Perry.