Student Hands-On Training (Nanosat 4)

Image shot by SHOT A from an altitude of 95,000 feet looking at the horizon from Earth

In Summer of 2005, AggieSat Lab participated in its first workshop with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Student Hands On Training workshop. This event, the third annual, was a four day workshop in Boulder, Colorado held at the University of Colorado.

Image shot by SHOT M looking down at SHOT A with Earth in the background

The program consisted of two days of teambuilding activities and the build of a BalloonSat payload for flight on a weather balloon to 95,000 feet. In attendance from Texas A&M was Tim Silverman, Taro Asazuma, Gerardo Iglesias, Quentin Donnellan, Marilee Myres, Paul Lucas, Devin Stancliffe, and John Graves.

The AggieSat team completed two BalloonSats for flight, though two weren't required. First BalloonSat was a horizontally oriented camera payload that took pictures of the horizon, called AggieSHOT A. The second BalloonSat, AggieSHOT M, had a downward looking camera that peered down onto the first AggieSHOT. Both were an immense success and reached an altitude of 95,000 feet. The SHOT group were involved in a 4 hour tracking and chase in eastern Colorado that involved a convoy of vans and SUVs with GPS tracking equipment. All payloads were successfully retrieved. Shown are examples of photographs returned by AggieSHOT A (horizon) & AggieSHOT M (downward).

Student Hands-On Training 2 (Nanosat 4)

Tom Hooten and Hutson Betts

The SHOT program is a portion of the NanoSat 4 competition that is aimed at building teamwork skills and to provide students with an opportunity to have hands-on experience in the launching of a weather balloon containing a student made payload. Over the preceding months, students were asked to prepare a small balloon-sat that demonstrated some portion of their NanoSat project. Limitations were set on weight, structural integrity, and balloon mounting procedures. This year, unlike in previous SHOT workshops, the schools participating were required to bring their balloon-sat completely constructed.

Tom Hooten and Hutson Betts

The SHOT 2 workshop began on June 16th, during the summer of 2006, in Boulder, Colorado. After a brief welcoming presentation, each school was challenged to reconstruct a LEGO creation using verbal communication only. One team member from each school was placed in a room with a finished version of the LEGO "spaceship", while the other students were given a box of parts. With the aid of handheld radios each team attempted to re-construct the "spaceship". Following this team building exercise, each school presented their balloon-sat to the group and the Air Force Research Lab representatives asked questions and gave their input on modifications and improvements that could be made to each payload. Early the next morning, the group traveled to a local high school where the balloons were being prepared for launch. Launch procedures were explained and practiced once before launch. The payloads were attached and launch took place around 7:30 a.m.. Then the chase began.

Following the satellites using GPS tracking systems in the cars, at about 1:00 p.m. the payloads were found roughly 70 miles away. That night, each team gathered data from their payload and prepared a presentation for the next day. Sunday, July 18th began with presentations from each team regarding their payloads performance. Closing comments were made by the SHOT staff and each school headed home with a wonderful experience to their credit.

Student Hands-On Training (Nanosat 5)

Christopher Roberts (Left) and Richard Margulieux (Right) standing with their recovered cube satellite.

During the summer of 2007, AggieSat Lab once again participated in the Student Hands-On Training workshop. AggieSat Lab sent two students to the workshop which was held in Boulder, Colorado. Chris Roberts and Richard Margulieux represented AggieSat Lab this summer and participated in many events similar to those that their peers had experienced in prior years. The students performed team building tasks and built a new BalloonSat, affectionately called Cattleprod, for the weather balloon flight. Cattleprod contained a downward looking digital camera, set to capture an image every 30 seconds and was able to gather some impressive images of the curvature of the earth as it ascended towards the edge of space. During its 2 hour flight, Cattleprod climbed above 90,000 feet and took over 300 images before ultimately being recovered from a farmer's field.