Click the arrow to watch NASA Administrator Charles Bolden congratulate St. Thomas More Cathedral School students. Video source: NASA YouTube channel.
Six months after their satellite launched in an Orbital ATK Cygnus, and on the same day that the International Space Station completed its 100,000th orbit, NASA deployed a communications satellite built by St. Thomas More Cathedral School students in Arlington, VA.
STMSat-1 was launched to the ISS on Dec. 6, 2015 aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) IX mission. Along with CubeSats from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Michigan, STMSat-1 was deployed from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) system on May 16. The NRCSDs are commanded one by one, allowing the dispenser doors to open and the large internal spring to be released, deploying the CubeSats into an orbital altitude similar to that of the ISS, which orbits about 250 miles above Earth. After 30 minutes in orbit, the internal timers on the CubeSats allowed their onboard computers to boot up and begin transmitting. The CubeSat teams utilize their ground stations to listen for their beacons to determine the small satellites’ functionality and operational status. Once operational they begin their missions.
STM is believed to be the first grade school on Earth to send a functional satellite into space.
STM students watch today's events. Video source: NASA YouTube channel.