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ISS to launch satellite built by South Alabama students

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Today could be a big day for current and former students at the University of South Alabama.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are set to launch what’s called JAG SAT one. It’s a satellite the size of a shoebox. The spacecraft will study the atmosphere to help make Global Positioning Satellites give more accurate locations.

USA graduate Shawna Mason helped build JAG SAT while she was in school. She said it was great experience.

“I had just changed my major to electrical engineering and I came in to develop some software for the attitude determination and control system, which would help orient Jag Sat 1, while it was taking its measurements in space," she said. "I helped layout the framework for that.”

Mason said she and classmates were anxious for the satellite’s initial launch aboard a SpaceX rocket.

“We almost always are bringing it up. 'When is it going to launch? When is it going to launch?'" she said. "We're all waiting for it and so when our professor, Dr. Sam Russ, reaches out to us and says, 'It's time. It's going to launch on this day,' we're elated. I couldn't think of almost anything else that week. I was so excited.”

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
Related Content
  • The first satellite designed and built at the University of South Alabama could soon be operating in orbit. It took the six-year effort to build and launch what’s known as Jag SAT one. That tiny spacecraft would probably fit in your car’s glove compartment. It’s only four inches by four inches by eight inches. It’s what’s known as a ‘cubesat,’ or cube satellite. It was designed and built by almost 50 South Alabama faculty members and students.
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