Students from the University of Hawai‘i community colleges watched their rocket successfully launch today from NASAʻs Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The announcement came via a press release from UH News.
“You just see the thing ignite and shoot off into the sky," Kapi‘olani CC student Kala‘imoana Garcia said in the release. "It’s the most amazing feeling in the world, especially since we’ve been working on it for over a year. And we are finally seeing all of our hard work pay off."
The students helped design the payload for the two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket. Windward CC and Kauaʻi CC constructed and designed the payload's mechanical housing. In addition, Kauaʻi CC designed and built the payload's instrumentation. Honolulu CC designed its electronic circuitry for power and telemetry, Kapiʻolani CC designed the associated print circuit board and Windward CC integrated all the components together. WCC also performed static tests on the instrument. The students helped create the payload in a collaboration known as Project Imua.
“This is really a system-wide collaboration, an effort to bring new industry and new technology into the Hawaiʻi economy,” Kauaʻi CC student Marcus Yamaguchi said in the release.
The payload designed by the students contains a UV spectrometer, that will analyze the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation before it enters Earth’s atmosphere. According to the release, the data could have implications regarding climate.
"We’re not out of the woods yet," Garcia said in the release. "We still got to get our data, but just that initial launch that we made it here and we got it into space. It was the greatest feeling ever.”
According to the release, the plan for the rocket is to ascend to an altitude of 94 miles. Following the rocket's return to Earth, the students would recover the payload once it lands in the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast.
“It’s been a long trip," Windward CC student Cale Mechler said in the release. "It’s taken nine months to get here, so its really exciting that we are finally getting a launch that’s going to be the culmination of what we’ve been working for."