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Aerospace Team Takes First Place in Low-cost Satellite Competition

June 15, 2007

A team of undergraduate University of Texas at Arlington aerospace engineering students won the international CanSat competition held during June in Amarillo. Their objective was to design, build and launch a space-type system capable of telemetry to a ground control station, weigh 500 grams or less and cost less than $1,000. The event was organized by the American Astronautical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the National Space Grants Consortia, NASA-JPL and the Universities Space Research Association.

The CanSat name is derived from the size of the satellite; its workings could be contained in a soda can. The competition was open to university and high school students from the United States, Canada and Mexico. Teams were tasked with writing a mission proposal, documenting design progress, launching their CanSat to an altitude of between 2000 and 3000 feet, measuring and sending changes in its descent every five seconds, safely recovering it (landing upright),and preparing and presenting a post-mission briefing.

Team members included seniors Yoshi Hitachi (project leader) and Satoshi Ukai; juniors Yuta Kiyooka and Sakurako Takahashi, and sophomores Kotaro Tagawa and Ai Ueno. The team’s faculty advisor was Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Kamesh Subbarao. They competed against teams from 11 other universities.

“This was a well-earned win,” stated Dr. Subbarao, “Especially because the students had to learn several new concepts that were alien to them, mainly in the areas of communication systems, microcomputer programming and telemetry. Their hard work and focused efforts paid off handsomely – a $2,500 prize for the team. And they were exposed to a full life-cycle design of a typical space-type system, an invaluable experience that someone usually gains only in industry. I wish them the very best for their future and am certain that they will go on to make significant contributions to their chosen areas of specialization.”