SAN JOSE — Dozens of engineering students gathered at San Jose State on Thursday to watch as their very own nano-satellite was deployed from the International Space Station.
Students sat nervously as an astronaut counted down to the launch, which was broadcast by a live-feed from the space station. The mini-satellite, appearing as a tiny speck against the cloud-covered Earth, was successfully sent into space.
"It is my first project actually being sent to space, so I was really excited," said Reine Ntone, a graduate student in the engineering program. She felt a special responsibility because she was the last person to handle the satellite's exo-break or parachute.
There are several experiments on board the nano-sat, including one involving virtual reality. But the exo-break is the most talked about, which will help steer to the reentry point.
Mark Murbach, a scientist at NASA Ames who's been advising the engineering students, said if the space parachuting mechanism works it can be used to more cheaply return experiments to Earth.
"We'll literally be able to parachute things off a platform, have it come in and be able to recover [it[.," said Murbach.
The satellite cost about $50,000 to build.