Lab open for NASA launch of UK-built satellite

By Fink Densford

As UK students are preparing to travel for spring break, a small set are preparing to celebrate an even greater journey — to space.

The UK Space Systems Laboratory will open its doors to UK students to watch the launch of and first contact with its satellite, KySat-1, Friday morning. The satellite will be launched with NASA’s Glory mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

“We want to share the joy and celebration of what’s been accomplished at UK,” Daniel Erb, the student director of the SSL said.

The rocket will take the satellite, designed and built at UK, approximately 350 miles above the earth, where it will orbit at 17,500 miles per hour, or five miles per second.

“It’s a huge accomplishment to get it up there and past all NASA’s certifications,” Twyman Clements, a graduate student with the SSL said. “Some countries still can’t do this.”

James Lumpp, the associate professor and director of the UK Space Systems Laboratory, said that the launch will only have a 48-second window to make it into orbit, making the entire launch an extremely precise operation.

A simple computer error delayed the launch from Feb. 23, said Clements, who was present with other members of the SSL in California for the failed launch.

“It will be better to watch the launch from here, we’ll have teams from all the ground stations so we can keep track of the satellite,” Clements said.

The satellite will be released from the rocket only 12 minutes after launch, and only 10 seconds after the Glory satellite is released.

Clements said that a camera on board the satellite will attempt to take 20 pictures at the time, hoping to capture other satellites that are being released as well.

The satellite will first pass over Europe, where it will beacon to teams on earth to let it know it is functioning, and will eventually pass over the U.S. and Kentucky between 12 and 2:30 p.m., said Lumpp.

Clements said that they look forward to their first communication with the satellite within the afternoon to let it know it is operational.

Doors opened for the launch at 3:30 a.m., and the lab will be open all day to any visitor who wants to celebrate UK’s venture into space.

The lab is on the fifth floor of the F. Paul Anderson Tower in rooms 559 and 571.