ASHLAND, Neb. (KMTV) — On Saturday, the Big Red Satellite team launched their first high altitude air balloon from the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum. It's a precursor for a much bigger project, the NASA Cube Launch Initiative.
The team of 8th-11th graders were selected by NASA to build a satellite that will test solar power generation in the earth’s orbit to see how well a new solar cell generates power with and without direct sunlight.
The team is the first-ever selected from Nebraska for the project. Among them is eighth-grader Elsa Meyer, who said she is excited to be working on the project.
“I’ve always just been interested in space," Meyer said. "I never thought I’d get a chance to send a satellite this early into space, to begin working with aerospace mentors while I was still in school.”
Local leaders in space like former NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson say they’re glad to see the state is getting some attention when it comes to aerospace research and industry.
“It's about dang time," Anderson said, adding that he advocated for more astronauts to come from Nebraska during his time at NASA. "I’m glad that Nebraska’s partnering with NASA. I think that’s the right thing to do."
With the help of the University of Nebraska, the students have been researching, designing, and building the satellite. On Saturday, they got to do their first test run of the project.
That satellite is set to officially launch sometime between 2022 and 2025.