The DANDE spacecraft designed and built by students at the Colorado Space Grant Consortium was shipped in July to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, where it will undergo final testing before launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX flight in 2013.
After loading DANDE onto an 18-wheeler, research coordinator Brian Sanders and five CU-Boulder students also took off for Albuquerque and have spent the last two weeks going through major testing in the AFRL clean room.
Dozens of students have worked on the nanosatellite since CU-Boulder was awarded an initial $110,000 contract from the AFOSR in 2007 to develop it according to proposal. The Drag and Atmospheric Neutral Density Explorer, dubbed DANDE, which won the University Nanosatellite Flight Competition in 2009, is designed to measure variations in the thermosphere that create drag on orbiting satellites.
Meanwhile, another satellite developed by CU students under the direction of Xinlin Li and Scott Palo of the aerospace engineering sciences department and LASP, is awaiting launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base this month. The CubeSat carries the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment, which was developed to study solar flares. For the latest information about the launch, go to http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/csswe/.