Irvine students’ STEM lesson involves launching satellite into outer space

A team of students from six high schools in Irvine Unified and one in Tustin Unified have worked to successfully launch a satellite into outer space.

On Sunday, the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program, comprised of students from Irvine, Northwood, Portola, University, Woodbridge and Beckman high schools launched Mission Irvine01 with the help of Rocket Lab, a commercial space rocket group. Later on that day, they received confirmation that Irvine01 was now orbiting earth. This was the first launch for the Irvine CubeSat team.

a satellite taking a photo of earthIrvine01, which is known as a cube satellite (CubeSat) is 2.3 pounds and solar powered. While in space, it will take photos of stars and planets. The team back here on earth will use the information for research.

“We did it!” said University High School STEM/Engineering teacher Tinh Tran, who is also one of the CubeSat teacher leaders. “Irvine01 successfully launched and deployed into low Earth orbit approximately 500 km altitude and orbits Earth once every 92 minutes.”

He added, “It’s sitting in dispenser pod (see photo with red arrow taken moments before ejection). I was able to help students load the satellite into that pod and now it’s up there — speechless.  One of the proudest, yet surreal, moments in this teacher’s career.”

Irvine01 was launched off the east coast of New Zealand, carrying a dozen other of tiny satellites from various other schools and private companies.

“This is such a spectacular reflection of what’s possible when a group of relentlessly committed and passionate people come together to support our students,” said Irvine Unified Superintendent Terry Walker.

“We have some of the most talented, dedicated and engaged students and teachers who have worked diligently on this incredible achievement. Congratulations to the Irvine CubeSat team.”

Another launch of Irvine02 in scheduled for November 19 at 10:30am aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Irvine CubeSat Program is a project-based learning collaboration between K-12 education institutions, industry partners, non-profit organizations, and parent volunteers whose primary focus is to teach, train, and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals, while also creating opportunities for underrepresented groups in STEM-related fields.

The collaboration brings together over 100 students whose goal is to assemble, program, test, and launch a CubeSat into low Earth orbit (LEO) to perform a number of scientific experiments and explore new space technologies.