Academy cadets launch weather satellite into orbit

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Cadets at the Air Force Academy launched their latest cadet-built satellite from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska last week.

It took four years to make the launch happen, and the cadets are responsible for designing, building, integrating, testing and repairing the satellite, said Col. Marty France, head of the department of astronautics at the academy.

Two cadets joined France at Kodiak for the launch, while others monitored via a satellite video feed at the Academy.

The FalconSat-5 mission is sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory. Its mission is to perform space weather measurements with on-board sensors.

Design work on FalconSAT 5 began while FalconSAT 3 — an earlier satellite launched by cadets — was undergoing preparations for its March 2007 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Cadets in the classes of 2007 through 2010, along with their faculty members and the Academy’s Space Systems Research Center and Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center, completed key design, engineering and prototype testing milestones in preparation for final construction and testing that started in 2008. The class of 2010 completed assembly of the satellite and prepared for system testing at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., last year.

Air Force Academy cadets lift the FalconSAT-5 satellite from its shipping container at the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, on Oct. 17.

Air Force Academy cadets lift the FalconSAT-5 satellite from its shipping container at the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, on Oct. 17.

FalconSAT is one of the Academy’s capstone undergraduate systems engineering courses. Cadets act as the satellite system integrating contractor. The spacecraft, with all of its subsystems, is designed, built and tested to meet the requirements of real-world Department of Defense payload and mission requirements.

“We now have a second functioning, cadet-built satellite on-orbit performing a real DoD mission,” said France, noting that FalconSat-3 was launched in 2007 and is still gathering data.

Eleven hours following launch, the cadets executed initial contact — meaning they turned it on — as FalconSAT-5 passed overhead for the first time.

The satellite is expected to remain operational for up to three years.

Boecore wins supplier award

Northrop Grumman awarded a local company with one of its top supplier awards in its $10 billion information systems sector.

Boecore Inc., a locally owned engineering and information technology company, was named to the top 25 suppliers list because of its partnership with Northrop’s joint national integration center research and development at Schriever Air Force Base. It’s the third time the company has been recognized.

Boecore is headquartered in the Springs and has employees in Huntsville, Ala.; El Segundo, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz; Fort Gordon, Ga.; and Washington, D.C.

Amy Gillentine can be reached at 719-329-5205 or at amy.gillentine@csbj.com. Friend her on Facebook.