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WVSU students’ project launched on rocket

West Virginia

A Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket launches from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Thursday, August 19, carrying a payload of experiments designed by college students from around the country, including students from West Virginia State University. (Photo courtesy of NASA/submitted by WVSU)

INSTITUTE, WV (WOWK) – Students from West Virginia State University got the chance to participate in the successful launch of a NASA suborbital rocket. The launch happened yesterday, Aug. 19 at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island.

The five students, under the supervision of WVSU Physics Professor Dr. Marek Krasnansky, designed experiments that were launched Thursday as part of the RockSat-X program. According to WVSU, the program allows students in college to build their own experimental payloads that will be launched on NASA rockets.

The university says the five students who participated were Christopher Bias, William Miller, Jacob Welch, Jonathan Musselwhite and Ashlea Simmers. Work on the project began two years ago.

Officials with WVSU say the students’ experiments were launched in the payload on a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket. The rocket flew at an altitude of 98 miles and then descended by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean. Once the rocket is recovered, the projects will be returned to the students for data analysis.

“The overall goal was to provide students with hands-on experience with designing and building experiments for space exploration,” Krasnansky said.

According to the university, the student’s experiments tested how a variety of Geiger Muller tubes detected radiation. The detector they built was designed to determine the direction of radiation and relate it to the direction of the sun, as well as to measure temperature and pressure both inside and outside of the enclosure that protected the major parts of their payload. It was also designed to acquire data describing the flight dynamics including acceleration, rotation rates and magnetic fields.

Other institutions that participated in the 2021 RockSat-X flight included West Virginia University, Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, and West Virginia Wesleyan College, the Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado; Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado; College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California; the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan; Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; University of Colorado, Boulder; Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho; Kauai Community College in Līhuʻe, Hawaii; and Colorado School of Mines, Golden.

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