A mini-satellite built by Robertsville Middle School students will launch from Cape Canaveral this coming Thursday, June 3.
An official website for the project stated the launch will take place at 1 p.m. The launch could be reset for Friday depending on Thursday’s weather.
“We decided we’d really try to do this. A middle school had never done this,” Todd Livesay, an RMS teacher, told a virtual audience of Altrusa International of Oak Ridge in May.
The satellite is 200 millimeters by 100 milimeters by 100 milimeters.
Livesay explained about the project being part of a class and of an extracurricular club at RMS. In his comments to Altrusa, he downplayed his own role in the project.
“I haven’t done this. I am an itty bitty part of this.”
He said his role was bringing the students together with mentors who are specialists in fields related to different parts of the satellite process, including mentors from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and NASA.
We’re going to be out of one of those really cool SpaceX rockets,” he said regarding the June 3 launch. He said the RamSat will be be deployed from the International Space Station Monday,
Livesay explained to Altrusa the satellite will monitor vegetation as it recovers from wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains after the 2016 wildfires. A monitor in the RMS front lobby will track the satellite. However, he told Altrusans the real goal is educating the students.
“It’s never really about getting great pictures … this is really just an educational thing,” Livesay said.
He also said it could inspire the students to go into work with NASA in the future.
“A lot of us wanted to be part of the NASA program watching the moon launches and such,” he said of his own generation.
He said he hoped NASA projects in schools like this one will similarly inspire the students to look into careers with NASA. He also said some students involved in the project are interested in pre-engineering and architectural studies.
The project has already received national attention.
In 2019, Frank Brogan, U.S. assistant secretary of education for elementary and secondary education, visited Oak Ridge and talked to the students about the RamSat.
“It was not political. It was just about kids and learning,” Livesay said.
The satellite, while small, has many components, including solar panels, a flight computer, cameras, antennas, a battery and sun sensor electronics.
The satellite project has required students to engage in many different processes to get it ready. It’s involved work with 3D modeling, 3D printers, design of system components, coding and various tests of the satellite before it launches.
By Benjamin Pounds, Oakridger