After passing the latest round of testing at Nanoracks in Houston, Texas, the Puerto Rico CubeSat NanoRocks-2 (PR-CuNaR2) has been authorized to launch into space on a mission from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA if its acronym in English). The first Puerto Rican satellite to reach space was designed and developed by students of the Faculty of Engineering at the Bayamon Campus of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, with their professor Dr. Amilcar Rincon Charis. The PR-CuNaR2 is part of NASA’s ElaNa 36 project and will be flown and launched from a Falcon 9 rocket, the 23rd mission of SpaceX’s well-known developer and entrepreneur Elon Musk.
“After passing the tests of electrical conductivity, dimensions, mass, functionality and final integration, conducted by Nanoracks at PR-CuNaR2, we can announce that Puerto Rico will have its first satellite in space as soon as August 29th. With this achievement, it is now Puerto Rico is one of the few countries that has launched a satellite into space and contributes to the study and scientific research to shape the universe. For all of us who took part in this project, it is a great pride and shows the level of education we offer in the Faculty of Engineering at the Bayamón Campus of the University of American States”, this is what He was announced by Rincon Charis, along with students Wilhelm Sánchez Rodriguez, Jesus Marrero Colón and Carlos Vergara Quills.
For his part, the President of the Foundation, Mr. Manuel J. Vernus, the work of Professor Rincon Charisse and all the students of the Bayamon Campus who have participated in this great achievement for Puerto Rico and for the Pan American University. . “Today, Puerto Rico is stepping up greatly in its academic performance and contribution. This achievement is even more significant when recognizing the determination of the entire team, in continuing the work facing moments of great difficulty and challenges like the one it has gone through during the pandemic. Its determination today is the rejoicing and celebration of an entire people.” .
While Nanoracks mission manager, Jake Cornish, expressed his delight at the ability to launch PR-CuNaR2 into space. As he explains, he has worked with the Puerto Rican satellite for the past two years. “I’ve been working on Nanoracks for about two years now, so PRQ92 (PR-CuNaR2) was one of the first satellites I worked on. It’s very exciting to finally see all our efforts conclude and see the satellite launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket” .
For Cornish, the PAU Puerto Rican team’s work has been remarkable. “For the first time we have integrated a Puerto Rican satellite into the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer, which is very exciting. We will launch that in SpaceX 2023, from the International Space Station, which is something we hope to happen in September. We are very excited to be back to work with the university and with Puerto Rico on other collaborations. Here at Nanoracks we want to expand access to space for everyone, so it’s exciting that we were able to do this for the first time with Puerto Rico,” said the flight director.
The satellite, whose development began three years ago and involved about 25 students, is made of aluminum, photovoltaic cells, batteries and other materials approved for use in space. The PR-CuNaR2 weighs 5.6 pounds and is four inches wide, four inches long and 12 inches tall. Inside, the Puerto Rican satellite contains tiny particles of stainless steel and silicon that mimic asteroids. These tiny particles will be in motion for as long as the satellite is in space. The motions and collisions of tiny particles will be recorded and photographed as part of a scientific investigation that seeks to study the origin and evolution of planets and young stars. This part of the mission is being performed in collaboration with the Florida Space Institute and the University of Central Florida (UCF) Department of Physics.
As Rincón Charris detailed, the launch of PR-CuNaR2 will be from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On that day, the satellite will be launched from SpaceX 23’s Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. The tour, from takeoff to arrival at the International Space Station, will take about nine hours. Once the satellite reaches the International Space Station, it will wait for a 56-degree orbit, to be launched into space through an extendable arm that Nanoracks has on the International Space Station. PR-CuNaR2 will remain in orbit for two years. During its orbit around the Earth, the satellite will record and photograph the tiny particles that are the subject of its investigation.
Rincon Charis explained that the 56-degree orbit was chosen to place PR-CuNaR2 because in this orbit the satellite will pass through Puerto Rico more times than in other orbits. The satellite will pass over Puerto Rico twice a day for 10 minutes. At that time, the satellite team, which will be based at the Bayamón campus in Interamericana, will be able to find out what is happening to the satellite through telemetry and video tapes, and will collect the data submitted for its analysis and subsequent dissemination,” Indian.
The satellite is ready to be pulled into the atmosphere and disintegrated, within two years. However, PR-CuNaR2 may orbit longer. Besides the Puerto Rican satellite, four other satellites that are part of NASA’s ElaNa 36 project will be launched.
For computer engineering student Wilhelm Sanchez Rodriguez, who has been involved in the project since he started college four years ago, the development process for PR-CuNaR2 has been “a learning path where we didn’t always know everything and had to learn it on the way.” For his part, Jesús Marrero Colón, also a computer engineering student, commented that working on the Puerto Rican satellite was an experience that pushed him to keep creating. Meanwhile, Carlos Vergara Quills, who studies electrical engineering, added that he was proud that “this is a project that has never been seen in Puerto Rico and is stimulating for future generations.” Both Jesús and Carlos participated in the university’s two-year project.
This project was sponsored and supported by the NASA Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium, University of Central Florida, University of Michigan, Florida Space Institute, and Aerospace Corp. and local Engiworks and Prescision Experts.
Once the PR-CuNaR2 satellite is launched, its trajectory can be seen from the university’s page inter.edu From the satellite page prcunar2.org. On each of the two web pages you will also be able to get additional information on the satellite as well as on the social networks of Interamericana on Facebook / interocs and on Twitter and Instagram at @interpuertorico. Finally, it has been reported that the group of students and their teacher will be arriving in Puerto Rico tonight.
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