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KnightSat II Leads to New Opportunities

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The University of Central Florida is home to a select team of student engineers called KnightSat II. The group has one goal in mind, to launch a satellite into space. Seems like no easy task for college students, however the members of KnightSat II have taken a strong initiative to accomplish their mission. The team is part of a unique experience competing in the University Nanosatellite Program. Sponsored by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, The UNP is a competition between top colleges across the country to establish flight ready satellite designs that are judged by government officials and engineering professionals.

The Engineering Building at UCF

The KnightSat II satellite is designed to remove orbital debris that hampers missions in space and make it difficult to effectively plan missions as well. The satellite uses a sail and tether system that provides complete control over satellite altitude and can allow for the satellite to accomplish a multi-orbit mission.

The KnightSat II team at UCF is competing against schools such as Cornell University, The University of Minnesota, Georgia Tech University, and The Massachussetts Institute of Technology. During a two year process, each school presents its design at small satellite conferences and workshops across the country. The team Gains feedback and meets industry professionals in the process. Michael Pfisterer, a project manager on the KnightSat II team says the competition has opened new doors for him. Through the program Pfisterer earned an internship which he will begin in the Spring. Pfisterer, a mechanical engineer said that this project has taken him in an entirely different direction than he thought he would go. He continued by saying satellite design wasn’t part of his future plans before becoming a part of the KnightSat II team. Team members stated the mission requires more than just aerospace engineers who would be responsible for the satellite design. There are computer, electrical, and mechanical engineers responsible for creating the actual satellite and its components.

The winner of the University Nanosat Program won’t be announced until 2011. In January of next year the final competition review will take place. Satellite designs from each school will be judged on several criteria including student education, technical excellence, and flyability. Chris Valle is a student engineer at UCF who is also a part of KnightSat II. During an interview with Chris he spoke of the value of the program in terms of getting real world experience in the engineering industry. “It’s been great meeting people” said Chris. He spoke of the value of working on a real project and getting to ask questions from experts. The feedback is helping make the project better but also making Chris a more capable engineer. 

UCF Engineering slogan "Shoot for the Stars."

Regardless of the outcome the team spoke of the value of the UNP. If KnightSat II isn’t selected in January, the team plans to reenter competition called Nanosat-8. Chris Valle stated the possibility of using what was learned on the KnightSat II project for future projects at the University of Central Florida. As for now, this group of student engineers will continue to shoot for space.

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Written by ArthurVolpe

November 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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