The Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE), built by students at the University of Colorado under the direction of Xinlin Li and Scott Palo, was successfully launched on an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg AFB last Thursday afternoon (9/13/12) at 3:39pm MDT. CSSWE was located in the Aft Bulkhead Compartment (ABC) near the nozzle of the Centaur upper stage of the Atlas 5 and was deployed 3 hours after the primary payload (an NRO spy satellite), along with 10 other cubesats. Approximately 90 minutes after deployment from the launch vehicle, CSSWE autonomously deployed its communication antenna and at 4:20am on Friday morning we received the first beacon indicating all systems are operating nominally. The team has been working over the weekend to refine the orbital elements and collect beacon data in an effort to baseline the satellite performance before beginning the commissioning phase, which is expected to occur later this week.
This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and run as a project in our graduate projects curriculum with 60+ students contributing to the project over the past 3 years with guidance from AES and LASP staff. CSSWE was built, integrated and partially tested in the new AES CubeSat Lab with final thermal vacuum testing occurring at LASP. The CSSWE team also built a new UHF ground station at LASP that is being used to control the satellite.
This success is another testament to the quality of our students and the caliber of preparation they receive.
More information about the project can be found at http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/csswe/