UNITE CubeSat reaches 100 days in orbit, a milestone for student-build satellites

UNITE undergraduate team members watch as the CubeSat they helped build is launched and deployed from the International Space Station. Image copyright: USI Photography and Multimedia.

The University of Southern Indiana student-built UNITE CubeSat has been officially in Earth’s orbit 100 days and has transmitted data back to Earth from orbit every day since its January 31 deployment.

The first spacecraft built and flown by a public institution in the state of Indiana and funded in part by NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP), UNITE has been confirmed by NASA to be the only academic satellite built and flown into space and/or orbit as part of the USIP. According to a recent study, only 45% of CubeSat units last longer than 60 days in service. 

Additional funding for the project was provided by the USI Foundation, the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education and the Indiana Space Grant Consortium. The UNITE CubeSat was built and is operated by undergraduate students with advisement from Dr. Glen Kissel, associate professor of engineering. The satellite’s tri-fold mission is to measure plasma levels in the lower ionosphere, record its own internal and exterior temperatures and measure its orbital decay as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of its mission. For more information, visit http://usispace.com/ or contact Kissel at (812) 461-5417. More information about the launch and team members around the satellite can be found on the USI website at USI.edu/usitoday.

Founded in 1965, the University of Southern Indiana enrolls more than 11,000 dual credit, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in more than 130 areas of study. A public higher education institution, located on a beautiful 1,400-acre campus in Evansville, Indiana, USI offers programs through the College of Liberal Arts, Romain College of Business, College of Nursing and Health Professions and the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education. USI is a Carnegie Foundation Community Engaged University and offers continuing education and special programs to more than 20,000 participants annually through Outreach and Engagement. USI is online at www.usi.edu.