US: Orbital Sciences Corporation will launch the first satellite designed and built by high school students into earth orbit aboard a Minotaur I rocket on November 19. The small satellite, known as TJCubeSat (TJ³Sat), will be launched aboard the US Air Force”s ORS-3 mission as one of more than two dozen secondary payloads the Minotaur rocket will carry into orbit.
The TJ³Sat is a small-size CubeSat developed, built and tested by students from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. Over the past several years, volunteers from Orbital”s technical staff mentored the student team and provided engineering oversight, while the company made its space testing facilities available and provided financial support for the satellite project.
The TJ³Sat project was conceived as a method to interest students around the world in space-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. TJ³Sat utilises the CubeSat standard design developed by Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University. The cube-shaped satellite measures approximately 3.9×3.9×4.5 inches (10x10x12 centimeters) and has a mass of about 2.0 pounds (0.89 kilograms). The TJ³Sat”s payload is a phonetic voice synthesiser that converts strings of text to voice. Once converted, the voice is transmitted back to earth over amateur radio frequencies. Students from around the world can submit text strings to be uploaded to the satellite for transmission. The satellite”s design and operations data is public, enabling students from other countries to use it freely.