Satellite project closer to launch

A University of Alberta satellite project is one step closer to fruition after a large donation and a pending deposit on launching the first made-in-Alberta satellite.

A University of Alberta satellite project is one step closer to fruition after a large donation and a pending deposit on launching the first made-in-Alberta satellite.

One of the team members, Lacombe Composite High School graduate Charles Nokes, said they will sign a launch contract later this month after raising enough money to put a deposit down. So far they have raised $45,000 to put their project in space, just $15,000 shy of their goal.

But with a launch date still a year out and enough money for a deposit on the launch contract, they took a big step.

“We have enough money to put down the deposit and sign the contract to finalize our position on the launch,” said Nokes. “There are still more than 50 teams competing for spots on the launch and it’s first come, first served, so we’re ready to get our spot on the launch.”

Monday they received a $10,000 donation from the University of Alberta faculty of science.

“There are so many things going on with the project that it’s great when one aspect comes together, getting us one step closer,” said Nokes.

“We’re working feverishly on the technical side, so there is a lot of excitement going on.”

The money raised so far has helped the project stabilize financially, which is a huge relief for those behind it. They even raised about $1,000 through dogecoin, an online peer-to-peer currency exchange.

The cube satellite has three units, each 10 by 10 by 10 cms. On the exterior, solar panels generate power. Inside are a computer, the mechanics to operate the satellite and two payloads aimed at studying Earth’s magnetic field.

In a previous interview with the Advocate, Nokes said the satellite will study the effects of frequent bursts of high-energy particles from the sun on the Earth’s magnetic field.

Examples of prior damage caused by these bursts include the 1859 Carrington Event where a solar storm hit earth, knocking out all telegraph lines and electrocuting some telegraph operators. Or a 1989 solar storm that knocked the Hydro-Quebec electrical grid offline for nine hours.

In total the satellite will be in space for three months.

“Once we can get over that $60,000 mark we know we won’t have an issue with the launch itself, which is out of our control,” said Nokes.

This summer, Nokes is working with the head of the space physics research team at the University of Alberta, Ian Mann, doing research relating to the satellite’s launch.

People can still donate, and receive different rewards based on donation level, starting with the thanks of the team behind the satellite for $5, ranging up to a 3D model of the satellite, personalized engravings on a chip inside the satellite and a colour poster of the satellite for $10,000, with many options in between.

To donate to the project visit www.albertasat.ca and click the donate link.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com