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Satellite Designed By USI Students Successfully Enters Earth’s Orbit

By Isaiah Seibert, IPB News | Published on in Education, Science, Statewide News, Technology
The UNITE CubeSat team poses for a photo after a successful deployment. L to R: Nathan Kalsch, Sujan Kaphle, Glen Kissel, Wyatt Helms, Ryan Loehrlein, and Zack Snyder.

A satellite designed by students at the University of Southern Indiana (USI) successfully deployed from the International Space Station Thursday morning.

The UNITE CubeSat team received the first data from its satellite at 8:36 a.m. Thursday.

The all-undergraduate team planned for two and a half years.

Ryan Loehrlein has been with the team since the beginning. He’s a finance and engineering student at USI and is the team’s assistant lead. “It’s been a lot of testing and development and trial and error just to see if we can actually get it right,” he says.

“We’ve had some challenges. It actually caught on fire in October of 2017,” says Glen Kissel, associate engineering professor at USI and the UNITE CubeSat team’s faculty advisor. “It put us behind for a couple months but we recovered from that and finished the build and the testing.”

Kissel says NASA reviewed the team’s project four times as part of the design process.

The tiny satellite will collect data for about a week and then stop for a year. Its main mission will pick up next January as the spacecraft takes weather measurements, monitors its own temperature, and tracks orbital decay.

The satellite was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida in December on board a SpaceX capsule.

Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly said the satellite was deployed Friday.