News and Events

Student-Designed Payload Launches on NASA Rocket

Aug 15, 2017

On Sunday, a rocket launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility carried a payload designed by a team of students and faculty from the Hume Center for National Security, Space@VT, the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, and the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. This payload was designed as part of the Rocksat-X program, and was built to receive and collect tracking signals from ocean-going vessels at sea and commercial aircraft in flight, transmitting those collections in real time to the Virginia Tech Ground Station (VTGS) in Blacksburg. As the NASA suborbital sounding rocket carrying the student-designed payload reached its peak altitude of 94 miles, the student team at the VTGS reported receiving thousands of packets of data for analysis, which will be supplemented by data received in the recovered payload.

“We were very pleased with the launch and the results,” said Zach Leffke, a Hume Center research associate. “This is precisely the sort of hands-on, minds-on student project that the Virginia Tech Ground Station was designed for, with students designing the payload, operating the systems, and receiving the data.”

This project is staffed and lead by undergraduate students under the guidance and with the financial support of AI Solutions and Orbital ATK through the Hume Center’s Academic Affiliates Program. The NASA Education Program and Colorado Space Grant Consortium sponsor the Rocksat-X program. RockSat-X @ Virginia Tech is a registered VT student organization.

Congratulations to the entire 2017 Rocksat-X student team for successfully designing, building, testing, and flying the payload experiment!