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Freeport Public Schools CubeSat takes off

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As one of five finalists in the nation for the U.S. Department of Education’s CTE Mission: CubeSat Challenge, Freeport Public School’s CubeSat Challenge team successfully launched a 10 cubic centimeter nanosatellite into the sky as part of the challenge’s flight week.

The CubeSat was launched via drone and was able to successfully carry out its intended mission of gathering data on environmental observations and to simultaneously transmit that data back to the Freeport students monitoring the launch. The data will be used in the district’s study measuring the differences in heat absorption and retention between urban and rural areas. If selected as the winner of the U.S. DOE competition Freeport’s CubeSat nanosatellite may be launched into space, and simultaneously feed research gathered in space to Freeport students for their own analysis and use.

“The test flight of the CubeSat prototype built by Freeport students is a thrilling, momentous event for our district,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kishore Kuncham. “The District has been fully involved in supporting our students through this U.S. Department of Education challenge. We are excited at this amazing opportunity and the dedicated, innovative work that has gone into this project. The success of the CubeSat team’s launch is a testament to our commitment to ensuring our students are provided with world-class learning opportunities and a robust STEM education.”

Comprised of 15 students from Freeport High School and Dodd Middle School, the team was chosen as a finalist in the national challenge in February and have worked in groups to build the prototype and develop their mission for the launch. Working closely with Freeport teachers, as well as industry experts including those from Brookhaven National Labs, the launch of the student-designed CubeSat, provided the team with valuable lessons and insight on engineering, computer science, aerospace technology and research.

“With the test flight, the CubeSat team was able to see the outcome of their dedication and commitment to the CubeSat Challenge,” said Director of Science Dr. Vincent Pereira. “The challenge was multi-phased and required creativity, collaboration and innovation which can potentially influence future space technology. We are truly on a path towards bringing space missions out of the clouds and into the classroom.”

Following the successful test flight, the CubeSat team virtually presented their project at the CubeSat Developers Workshop at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Their data findings were also presented to the U.S. Department of Education at the event by Freeport CubeSat team leader, Victor Villatoro on a live, virtual panel discussion with the other four CTE Mission: CubeSat finalists.

As a finalist, Freeport received a cash prize, development kits, and expert mentorship donated to the U.S. Department of Education by Arduino, Blue Origin, Chevron, EnduroSat, LEGO Education,, MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, and XinaBox to help design the CubeSat nanosatellite.