The Balloon Payload Program started out about one year ago in the spring semester of 2014. This was because two growing school projects, Project HERMES and Project TRAPSat, wanted to launch on high altitude balloons. Well, those projects are going beyond the balloon.
Thats right. They’re going orbital.
NASA had a call for applications for the “CubeSat Launch Initiative” where NASA awards free launches into space for CubeSats developed by various universities. CTU, having not yet been to space, decided to put forth a proposal combining the two major projects into one 3U CubeSat – CACTUS 1. Out of a multitude of applicants, 14 were selected. Capitol Technology University was on that list.
The Coordinated Applied Capitol Technology University Satellite (CACTUS1) is a combination of Project TRAPSat and Project HERMES. Project TRAPSat will be the main science component of the CubeSat, trapping micrometeorites in an aerogel medium to better map the existence of micrometeorites orbiting the Earth. Project HERMES will be the main communications component of the satellite flying under a different name – OSHComm. The Onboard Spacecraft Hotspot Communications (OSHComm) Subsystem will communicate with the ground through Satellite internet via the Iridium Constellation. This means unlike conventional CubeSats, the communications coverage with the satellite will be Global, 24/7, and accessible where ever there is internet. The CACTUS1 team will be able to command and receive data from their satellite from any computer, laptop, or smartphone at any time.
This new frontier for Capitol Technology University is an exciting one to say the least. The launch vehicle and launch date are yet to be determined, but will likely be in the 2017 – 2018 timeframe. It is exciting to see how two projects that started out as low-key balloon experiments have grown and developed into one singular orbiting satellite. The Balloon Payload Program is glad to have been a stepping stone for these projects on their journey to the stars.
For more information about the projects, check out the links below:
NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative – http://tinyurl.com/NASAcsli
Capitol Technology University – http://www.captechu.edu/
Project TRAPSat – http://trapsat.wix.com/trapsat
Project HERMES – http://ctuprojecthermes.com/