Tampa team's invention headed to outer space

New cube satellite for NASA made by local citizen scientists

It's not easy to become an astronaut, but NASA is making it easier for everyday people like you and me to get a taste of outer space.

For the first time, ever citizen inventors will have their do-it-yourself cube satellites launched aboard NASA's most powerful rocket.

The agency chose three teams from across the country, and one of those teams is right here in Tampa Bay.

Team Miles will have a cube satellite on Exploration Mission-1.

Since 2015, NASA has been working on Cube Quest Challenge, which allows anyone to invent a cube sat that will have the capability to advance operations near and beyond the moon.

This spacecraft will fly farther than any other built for humans. It's also the first time these cube sats will go into deep space.

“Wow! I'm just super proud of the team,” says Team Miles founder Wesley Faler.

Faler started the group, having little experience with space. Slowly but surely, the team grew to 17 members, each contributing in their own way to the mission.

The team is pretty much self-taught.

“None of us actually have a background in aerospace engineering, so we started with a lot of reading and research, says team member Bill Shaw.

In two years, NASA will launch Exploration Mission-1. It will push boundaries to advance communication from Earth to deep space.

“We’re creating technology that doesn’t exist right now,” says Shaw.

Thirteen cube sats will be aboard the mission, 10 from NASA. 3 from citizen engineers. 

“After 2 1/2 years of designing and engineering this satellite, to find out we're really going to fly it to space now. You realize we have a lot of work ahead of us,” says Shaw.

Team Miles is working to having their cube sat send back signals, from at least 4 million kilometers away and beyond, which has never been done.

“We're showing how a $10,000 communication system can get the job done,” says Faler.

Ultimately, Team Miles is helping NASA prepare for missions to Mars.

Normal size satellites are about the size of a school bus. If they fail that's a loss of millions of dollars.

These smaller cube sats are about the size of a baseball.

Hundreds can be sent into space. They're less expensive and easier to launch, and if one fails it doesn't ruin the mission.

The mission that cube is going on will bring technology that we've never seen before but did you know, there are things you use every day that was inspired by NASA space travel? For example:

  • The memory foam mattress was originally created to protect passengers on airplanes.
  • ·The cordless vacuum was developed by NASA and Black & Decker so astronauts could extract core samples from below the lunar surface.
  •  Safety grooving were first put on airplane runways to prevent accidents. Now, they're on the road to increase traction and keep you safe.

From artificial limbs to firefighter gear, space exploration has inspired a lot of what you see here down on earth.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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