Montana State University

MSU satellite now set to launch early March 4

March 2, 2011 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
BOZEMAN - The launch of a Montana State University student-built satellite is now set for early Friday, March 4.

NASA engineers have corrected the ground system problems that caused the launch to be postponed shortly before take-off was scheduled on Feb. 23, said Keith Mashburn, research associate in MSU's Space Science and Engineering Laboratory.

The satellite is now scheduled to launch at 3:09:43 a.m. Mountain time March 4 aboard a Taurus XL rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch must occur within a 48-second window, or it will be rescheduled again.

Approximately 125 MSU students built the tiny research satellite called Explorer-1 [Prime] over the past five years. Some of those students, as well as faculty and staff members with the SSEL and the Montana Space Grant Consortium are expected to watch the launch in person or from MSU's Space Operations Center in Cobleigh Hall.

After the satellite is launched, MSU students will monitor its orbit around the world. The satellite is expected to fly almost directly over Bozeman for the first time around 1:30 p.m. Friday. The satellite - a cube about four inches per side -- will orbit more than 400 miles above the Earth.

MSU's satellite is one of only three university-built satellites that were chosen to fly on NASA's Glory mission. Glory is a climate satellite that will measure the sun's energy output and the distribution of tiny airborne aerosol particles in the upper atmosphere. Explorer-1 [Prime] is expected to orbit the Earth about 15 years before reentering and disintegrating in the upper atmosphere.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu