Three… two… one… blast off with Blair Space Club

April 29, 2024, 2:29 p.m. | By Giorgia Toti | 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The new Blair Space Club is leaving its mark in space

Since her freshman year, junior Allison Lin has had a dream to create a space for students to learn about aerospace and engineering. This year, in Oct. of 2023, that dream finally came true when Lin founded the Blair Space Club with ambitious goals for the group. The main one? Getting a piece of Blair into space. Lin wanted to revitalize Blair’s CubeSat project. 

So… what are CubeSats? CubeSats are small cube-shaped satellites typically made by professionals, but many high schools have CubeSat programs that allow students to obtain aerospace engineering experience before college. 

In 2019, Blair was in the process of building a CubeSat but it was discontinued due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the majority of the team were seniors. Lin is reviving its program after it fizzled out in recent years. The first CubeSat program ran from 2019 to 2022 and made significant progress in conceptualization. The previous CubeSat team applied to many initiatives to receive funding, like the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative (NASA CSLI), which provides low-cost opportunities for educational programs building a CubeSat. 

Currently, Lin and fellow Space Club members are in the early stages of building a cube satellite. When fully formed, the CubeSat will be launched into space and provide data on the ionosphere, the part of Earth’s upper atmosphere that reflects and modifies radio waves. Blair's CubeSat will take measurements of the ionosphere and relay the data back to Earth—this means that Blair’s CubeSat will become one of the many pieces of technology working together, although indirectly, to ensure that the world can continue using technology for navigation and communication, like phones! 

Building an actual CubeSat generally takes three to ten years, but Lin hopes to launch Blair's by 2027. A major goal of Lin’s is to recruit new Space Club members so the project can make it to that launch date. Currently, the team is small with just four members, as they haven’t had much time to do outreach and are just starting conceptualization of the CubeSat, which includes understanding the math, the ionosphere, and how those radio waves work.  

After conceptualization, the Space Club team needs to sort out the technology. “Our next step after that [would] be implementing some of the electronics [and] seeing what it would be like to transmit and receive these signals,” Lin says. Then, the team needs to fundraise through grants and donors, advertise, and finally build and test the satellite. 

While the CubeSat is one of Blair Space Club’s main projects, the club emphasizes curiosity, learning, and fun. “We do some lectures on different space topics. It's a place where [people] come to discuss feelings on missions [and] space concepts overall,” Lin says. Aside from guest lectures, Space Club hosts fun activities, like field trips to the NASA Goddard Flight Center, to foster an engaging community of space enthusiasts. Sophomore Aurelia Miller’s favorite Space Club activity was an event just before last winter break. “People were invited to come in and make gingerbread CubeSats… and I had a blast,” Miller says. 

Blair Space Club, though just starting to grow, has been an amazing opportunity for many students to begin mastering many different concepts of space. “I really like learning things about space that I wouldn't know otherwise. [Things] that I might not get the chance to learn for a while or ever,” Miller says. 

Blair Space Club meets every Tuesday in room 212. Whether you are just popping in for a lecture, deciphering the math behind a CubeSat, or making gingerbread satellites with friends, Blair Space Club welcomes everyone in their attempt to reach for the stars. 

Last updated: April 30, 2024, 10:49 a.m.

Giorgia Toti. Hello! I am Giorgia Toti, a junior at MBHS, and this is my first year as a writer on Silver Chips Online. Along with a love of writing I am a part of Girl Scouts and am finishing my final Gold Award project, a coxswain … More »

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