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Portland State makes history by prepping Oregon's first satellite for launch

The project is set to liftoff from Earth in January of 2022,
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — After months of research, testing and development, students from Portland State University (PSU) completed work on Oregon's first satellite set to blast off from the surface of the planet in January of 2022. 

"It's very exciting," PSU Electrical and Computer Engineering Adjunct Faculty Member Andrew Greenberg said. "The idea is this is sort of training wheels. It's a test satellite to see if our designs will work in space."

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The interdisciplinary project is the work of students studying engineering, math and physics. OreSat0 will now be transferred to Space Flight in Seattle, Washington where it will be placed in a larger satellite called the Sherpa OTV. After that, it will be moved to Florida and placed inside a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and shot into orbit. The Sherpa OTV will then release OreSat0 so PSU can track its progress. 

"If life is great and everything goes well, we know our critical systems work," Greenberg said. "It's hard! Things don't work in space very well."

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OreSat0 is the first in a series of three satellites designed by the Portland State Aerospace Society. The second, unnamed satellite is larger than OreSat0, and will fly off the International Space Station in late 2022 or early 2023. It's part of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative, a low-cost pathway to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space by students and universities.

"What's exciting is it's not just a CubeSat. It's a CubeSat System," Greenberg said. "You can buy these off the shelf for $50,000. We can't afford that. We [asked] could we build it ourselves, and more importantly, could we build it in a way that others can build it too? So this is an entire open source system that people can download off the internet."

To see how to build your own CubeSat and download the plans, click here.