RockSat-X ready to launch

March 23, 2015

Northwest Nazarene University values experiences that are out-of-this-world. For the third consecutive year, NNU students are participating in RockSat-X, a NASA program that allows students a chance to research and develop experiments that will be launched into space.

After an initial trip this past summer, NNU engineering students Andrew Johnson (Tacoma, Wash.), Connor Back (Salem, Ore.), Lukas Rieke (Pasco, Wash.) and Jameson Krueger (Boise, Idaho), as well as NNU Department of Physics and Engineering Chair Dr. Dan Lawrence, are headed back to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to launch their design.

Thanks to grants from the Idaho Space Grant Consortium and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and an ongoing partnership with American Semiconductor, Inc. (ASI), a group of NNU engineering students spent last summer under the direction of Dr. Lawrence designing systems that will test the effectiveness of new technology developed by ASI under the extreme conditions of a rocket launch into space.

NNU's RockSat-X team’s role in this project was to facilitate the transportation of the ASI equipment into space, fight the extreme temperatures and vibration of launch so that the integrity of the equipment is still intact and can work as it is supposed to, then guide it all safely back to earth. During re-entry, parts and pieces are susceptible to burning, which is just one factor the NNU RockSat-X students had to take into account as they designed their system.

In June 2014, the group traveled to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for the first time to test their design. Testing of the design included a vibration test (which simulates the amount of vibration a rocket experiences during launch) in order to determine whether or not their design can withstand the force. Team member Andrew described the nerve-wracking experience: “We all stand there listening to the clanking and noises, just hoping it’s not our design that is falling apart in there.” The team then returned to NNU to make any necessary adjustments needed and to wait for a launch date.

After months of work and preparation, the team is back at Wallops hoping to see all of their hard work pay off during their final launch scheduled on March 27 beginning around 6:45 a.m. EST.

Join in on the excitement by watching the launch via a live stream on Friday→

Learn more about the technical specifications of the RockSat-X team's project→