Ithaca High Schooler Leading Satellite Building Team

Changing technology is making it easier to continue space exploration.  It's also paving the way for younger students interested in science to become more actively engaged in the breakthroughs taking place. Our Philip O'Driscoll tells us about a collaboration between a local high school and college working together to play a role in the next phase of exploration.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Isabel Dawson is a student at Ithaca High School. Classes are long over, but she's still learning a lot this summer about space exploration, thanks to a unique competition.

"And I thought, who wouldn't want to build a satellite? So I thought it would be a really good idea to get a club together and make a team of high school students," said Isabel Dawson, president of the Ithaca High School CubeSat team.

She formed that team last year, taking part ever since in a competition through the Museum of Science Fiction. The goal is to creatie a small, cost effective satellite to further space exploration, also known as CubeSat. Her team's design was one of three chosen worldwide and now they're working with Cornell Aerospace Engineering Students to build it from scratch.  

"This has never been done so its quite the adventure so far and if we do we will have done something that is truly fantastic," said Segun Fontenot, Cornell University CubeSat team developer.

Fontenat is one of the engineers turning the design into reality, based off a 3D printed model. The hope is their finished product will be launched into space by NASA in the coming year.

"With less expensive space craft we think will become more frequent launches and it will provide access to space for a larger number of people," said Mason Peck Cornell Aerospace & Mechanical associate professor leading the CubeSat project said.

This competition, and changing technology are fueling renewed interest in the space program.

"It's extremely exciting to be working on this kind of thing, but at the same time it seems very reachable, where as some people who didn't necessarily grow up with this technology might see it as a less attainable goal," Dawson said.

Aside from seeing her CubeSat launched into space, Dawson hopes her success will push more girls toward a career in space exploration.

Ithaca's CubeSat design was created within a $10,000 budget.  

The team has one more week to complete it.

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