NASA to design a satellite made by Puerto Rican students
PR-CuNaR2 is three years in the making and hopes to launch into space on Aug. 31, 2021.
Students at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico’s school of Engineering in Bayamón Campus (IAUPRBC) are working with NASA and the Florida Space Institute and the Physics Department of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in hopes of launching a new satellite into space on Aug. 31, 2021.
The first Puerto Rican satellite is integrated into a Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer, and will be transported and launched from the Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Mission SpaceX 23 to the International Space Station.
Puerto Rico will become one of the few territories to have launched a satellite into space and contribute to the study and development of similar devices.
The satellite is called CubeSat NanoRocks-2 or PR-CuNaR2, and is made of aluminum, photovoltaic cells and other materials approved for use in space.
Jake Cornish, a mission manager at Nanoracks in Houston has been part of the organization for over two years, but never worked with creators from Puerto Rico. He hopes the new project can introduce NASA to more engineers all over the world.
“We want to extend the access of space for everyone around the world and it's really exciting to get a first up there for Puerto Rico,” Cornish, said.
Engineers involved with the initiative passed a series of tests conducted by the Nanoracks Company.
The project has been in the works for over three years and has since been brought to life by more than 25 students in Bayamón.
Inter-American University was one of many schools chosen by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), as part of the ELaNa program in 2018.
Dr. Amilcar A. Ríncon Charris, the principal investigator of Cubesat Mission PR-CuNaR2, is proud that Puerto Rican engineers will have the ability to show their skills to NASA.
“For all of us who have been part of this project, it is a great pride and shows the caliber of the education we provide in the Engineering School of the Bayamón campus of the Inter-American University,” Ríncon Charris said on PR-CuNaR2’s website.
The PR-CuNaR2 satellite weighs 5.6 pounds and measures four inches wide by four inches long, and is 12 inches tall.
Takeoff will happen from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and will be launched from SpaceX23’s Dragon capsule, and released into space through an extendable arm provided by Nanoracks.
PR-CuNaR2 will remain in orbit for two years.
While in orbit, the satellite will take pictures and record other activity.
“The satellite will pass over Puerto Rico twice a day, for 10 minutes,” said Ríncon Charris. “At that time, the satellite team, which will be located in the Bayamón campus of the Inter American, will be able to know through telemetry and videos, what is happening with the satellite and will collect the data provided for its subsequent analysis and publication.”
PR-CuNaR2 will surround Puerto Rico specifically.
Puerto Rico’s is one of four satellites part of NASA’s ElaNa 36 project.