Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Crash Of Russian Rocket Destroys Montana's First Satellite

Date:
July 28, 2006
Source:
Montana State University
Summary:
Built by science and engineering students at Montana State University, the state's first satellite was lost when the Russian rocket it was riding on crashed in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, July 26.

MSU physics graduate student Brian Larsen (right) and postdoctoral fellow Tim Howard react to the launch of Montana's first satellite. Larsen has worked on the satellite since its inception in 2001. Hours later, Larsen learned the rocket carrying the satellite crashed.
Credit: Photo by Jay Thane

The first satellite built in Montana was destroyed Wednesday (July 26) when the Soviet-era intercontinental ballistic missile it was riding on crashed shortly after liftoff in Kazakhstan.

At 100 feet tall and 15 feet across, the Dnepr missile was to carry 18 satellites into orbit. Nearly 200 students, faculty, and members of the public gathered at the Engineering and Physical Sciences building on the campus of Montana State University to cheer the launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome as it was relayed by live video.

However, 13 minutes after the launch, a much-anticipated signal from the rocket had not been received. About two hours later, a space news Website posted a story that the rocket had crashed. Full details of the failure will be announced at Baikonur Thursday (July 27).

The rocket carried MEROPE, Montana EaRth Orbiting Pico-Explorer, which was the culmination of five years of work and waiting by more than 100 MSU students.

"The failure of the Dnepr rocket launch, with the loss of Montana's first satellite, MEROPE, is bad news, but rocket launches remain a tricky business," said Bill Hiscock, head of MSU's physics department. "We have accomplished 95 percent of the satellite's mission by just getting it to the launch pad; the educational experience for the MSU students designing and building the satellite is not diminished by the failure of the launch vehicle."

MEROPE was a specific satellite design known as a CubeSat. CubeSats are shaped like a cube 10 centimeters (4 inches) on a side and weigh 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds). They were envisioned as student satellites that could be designed, built, tested and launched in the time it takes a student to earn a four-year undergraduate degree.

Undergraduates from physics, electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, art, business, even geology and microbiology, worked on the project through MSU's Space Science and Engineering Lab.

Four graduate students managed the project over the years: Brian Larsen, George Hunyadi, Mike Obland and Steve Jepsen. David Klumpar, director of the SSEL, was the project's mentor. It was a Montana Space Grant Consortium project, which is NASA's higher education program in Montana.

"Aerospace is headed for a critical need of new blood," Hiscock said. "The bulge of scientists and engineers inspired by Sputnik I and the space race with the Soviet Union are retiring. Projects like MEROPE are exactly what is needed to inspire and train the next generation of scientists and engineers our country needs"

MEROPE was an entirely student-oriented project, said Brian Larsen, one of the graduate-student managers.

"This was all extra-curricular. Students worked on it because they wanted to," Larsen said. "We'd have struggling students come in, get excited by the hands-on work and their grades would improve. Students would get really motivated because they could learn in a way they didn't get in the classroom."

Over its four-month lifetime, MEROPE was to take measurements of the Van Allen Radiation Belt, a donut shaped band of super-charged particles that can kill astronauts and destroy satellites. The belt's radiation levels and its shape are constantly changing. MEROPE's monitoring was to contribute to the understanding of "space weather," Larsen said.

MSU's little Rubik-cube-like satellite drew upon a legacy of American and Soviet space exploration. The radiation belt was discovered in 1958 by the United States' first satellite, Explorer I. Astrophysicist James Van Allen designed the experiment that detected the belt.

Van Allen, now in his early 90s and still working, donated the Geiger tube aboard MEROPE. David Klumpar, the director of MSU's Space Science and Engineering Lab, did undergraduate research with Van Allen.

Additionally, the Kazakhstan launch site is one of the world's most famous. It's where Sputnik I, the first satellite was launched, and it's where the Soviets launched the first man into space.

Through quirks in the satellite launching business, MEROPE has been waiting nearly two years to get into space. It and 16 other satellites, were hitching a ride with the main payload, a 1650-pound satellite from Belarus. The other satellites were from a Russian technical high school, the universities of Rome and Turin, Japan, Norway and Korea. There were 14 CubeSats in all making the trip, 10 of them built by American university students.

Launch opportunities for university satellites are difficult to find, often leading to years of delay before a project flies, Hiscock said.

Despite the launch failure, "We look forward to continuing student spacecraft projects and seeking launch opportunities for MSU students' experiments." he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Montana State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Montana State University. "Crash Of Russian Rocket Destroys Montana's First Satellite." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060727180130.htm>.
Montana State University. (2006, July 28). Crash Of Russian Rocket Destroys Montana's First Satellite. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060727180130.htm
Montana State University. "Crash Of Russian Rocket Destroys Montana's First Satellite." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060727180130.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins