Imagine this: putting a satellite on the moon as an undergraduate student.
It’s a concept that students at UC San Diego are making a reality through a competition with NASA.
NASA will be selecting three student-built satellites to put inside a rocket they are launching at the end of next year.
A group of UC San Diego students are one of five schools that could get a shot at being a part of NASA’s mission to the moon. Forty students are a part of the UC San Diego team.
They have been building their satellite in an area known as ‘The Basement’ on campus for years, putting in 25,000 hours into the project.
‘The Basement’ is a space for students to build their ideas; the university helps student find ways to get funding for their projects.
During the first part of the competition, the team was in second to last place, but after more research, the team bumped themselves up to third place in the second leg of the competition.
“We had produced over a thousand pages of documentation and we placed third right behind MIT and Cornell. So, that was the biggest win I’ve ever had. It was probably the best day I’ve had at college just to know we came from the bottom to the top,” said Darren Charrier, President of UCSD SEDS.
The group used a 3-D printed engine inside their satellite to slow the satellite down once it is launched from the rocket halfway between the moon and the earth.
If the team gets selected to send their satellite to the moon, they say it will be a dream come true for them.
“Waiting for that first initial signal is going to be intense and then confirming with our Astrodynamics team that we have made it into orbit around the moon is going to be the most exciting day of my life. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be an exciting journey and it’s been an exciting journey so far,” said Darren Charrier.
The final leg of the competition is on April 6th.