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'Not the end of the road for these students': SpaceX to launch Sask. students' first satellite to the International Space Station

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A group of hundreds of students at the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (USST) as well as Saskatchewan Polytechnic are nearing the finale of a five-year project.

Their mission is to send the first Saskatchewan-made satellite, called RADSAT-SK, into orbit.

The extra-curricular project began in 2018, a partnership with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to encourage student participation in STEM projects outside the classroom.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Arliss Sidloski, co-technical project manager. “We’ve all learned so much, we’ve all developed our technical skills, built on what we learned in the classroom and gone so much further than that.”

The project had more than its share of obstacles from the beginning, from the COVID-19 pandemic right up to testing in Montreal a few weeks ago.

But the students say it gave them time to evaluate their work, making sure they were confident.

“We’ve just taken everything in stride,” Sidloski told reporters on Monday. “Every time there’s a challenge we’ve been like, ‘Ok, we’ll sort it out.’ Talk to the CSA; talk to our mentors and we’ll make it work.”

When things went wrong, the team developed a motto to keep themselves grounded.

“Fail hard, fail fast,” said Rylee Moody, financial project manager, who added there was a third step to the process. “Recover.”

The payload of the satellite will focus on radiation-based research, testing the effectiveness of melanin as a radiation shield, as well as testing less expensive methods of measuring radiation from space.

The satellite will hitch a ride on the SpaceX CRS-28 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, June 3rd.

From there, it will be launched into orbit around the earth.

But that’s not the only big news coming later this week.

“On June 2nd, on Friday, Canadian Space Agency will have a press conference,” said Sean Maw, principal investigator. “You should watch for that. Because this is not the end of the road for these students on this project, let’s just say that.”

Members of the team will be travelling to Florida later this week to watch the rocket launch their satellite into space. 

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