Hampton University students developing analysis software for satellites

HAMPTON, Va. — College students from all around Virginia, including in Hampton, are working on a major project that will analyze data of tiny satellites sent into space.

Four undergrad students from Hampton University are working with students from three other state universities to deliver small satellites to NanoRacks in Houston, Texas to be integrated into a CubeSat deployer (NRCSD).

Hampton University students worked on the project by developing software to perform analysis on the data that will be received from satellites using an analytical tool being developed by Hampton University students from the Atmospheric and Planetary Science Department. 

“Hampton University has always been on the forefront of innovation. The work our students are doing is being recognized and utilized by industry leaders, and we are excited to be part of this collaboration,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

Since June 2016, more than 140 students have been working the mission as a cross-institutional team. The students have been coached by faculty from NASA, industry and academic advisors, and NanoRacks, the world’s leading commercial space station company. 

“I learned so much about different types of orbits, the process of agile development, the nature and effects of coefficient drag all while using a foreign API in a familiar programming language,” said Asanji Chofor, Hampton University junior and cybersecurity student. 

The satellites will communicate information to ground stations at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion University. Astronauts will release the CubeSats so they can orbit together as a constellation. They’re expected to remain in orbit from at least four months to two years before burning up when they re-enter Earth. 

“This was a great opportunity for Hampton University students to get involved in and learn about CubeSats and projects on a scale larger than what can be experienced in a classroom, so large that they must be coordinated across several different organizations,” said Dr. John McNabb, assistant professor for the Hampton University School of Science 

The launch is scheduled for April 17 from Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

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