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Lincoln, Nebraska, April 21, 2021 — A team of Nebraska middle and high school students, mentored by University of Nebraska–Lincoln undergraduate engineering students, will have their satellite placed into Earth orbit. NASA announced this month that the project is one of 14 research satellites from nine states — and the first ever from Nebraska — to be included in an upcoming launch in the next several years as auxiliary payloads.


The Big Red Sat-1 CubeSat mission has the primary goal of engaging and developing future aerospace professionals by contributing to the development of critical technologies to improve solar power generation. The team will test a new type of solar cell to see how well it generates power with and without direct sunlight, as well as learn more about its lifespan in space. 


“Congratulations to the students of Big Red Satellite Team on their selection by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. This is a historic first for Nebraska and is a testament to the incredible effort and the seriousness of purpose that defines these young men and women,” said Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon. “Their success offers an inspiring glimpse of the unlimited promise of our next generation and the potential that resides right here in Nebraska.”


The students involved are eighth- through 11th-graders representing the Omaha metro area, Lincoln and Aurora, working with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Aerospace eXperimental Payload (AXP) student team to research, design and build a CubeSat. These satellites measure about 4 inches on each side, weigh less than 3 pounds and have an approximate volume of 1 quart (similar in size to a cube box of facial tissues).


“The College of Engineering is excited to support the students and all of the members of the Big Red Satellite Team as they develop their payload for NASA’s CubeSat program,” said Lance C. Pérez, dean of engineering at Nebraska. “This is a great example of how educational institutions and private industry can collaborative to advance STEM education and careers in Nebraska. The success of this student team and their mentors highlights the deep talent pool that we have in engineering.”

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