U of S students build satellite headed to International Space Station

A team of University of Saskatchewan students believe they are about 18 months away from launching Saskatchewan’s first satellite to the International Space Station (ISS), eventually orbiting and taking picture of earth.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Braden Stang, a second-year engineering and physics student.

“The fact that we’re a student group working on a satellite that we’re going to send to space, it blows my mind every time I think about it.” 

For the past three years, more than 100 engineering and physics undergraduate and graduate students have worked on RADSAT-SK, a cube satellite weighing about 2.5 kilograms and about the size of a tissue box.

“It’s really quite small and you have to fit everything in this small package, everything from a battery for the computer, communications antennas, our experiments, everything has to fit,” said Christopher Elash, an electrical engineering student heading into his master's program.

The goal of RADSAT-SK is three-fold. First to test a new type of radiation detectors called dosimeters, developed by the College of Engineering at the U of S. Secondly, the student-team has outfitted the dosimeters with a high-concentration melanin coating to see if the melanin blocks any radiation in space. Finally the team installed a camera on the CubeSat to try and snap a photo from 400 kilometers above.

“The camera is just for fun,” Elash said. “It’s so neat to be able to put a satellite in space and to be able to hopefully take some pictures of Saskatchewan from orbit and share those, that’s one of the things we’re most looking forward to with the mission.”

Elash said the team is about 18 months away from launch, where RADSAT-SK will be launched up to the International Space Station (ISS) on a supply mission.

“Then an astronaut will actually take the CubeSat and put it into a specially-designed launcher that’s on the space station and then from there the CubeSat just gets booted out the back of the space station into its orbit so the orbit path will be very similar to the ISS,” Elash told CTV News.

The RADSAT-SK project is part of the Canadian CubeSat Project, which aims to get professors and students from around Canada involved with a space mission.