Philadelphia, Pa, June 19, 2012 — Drexel Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics students Kelly Collet, Christopher Elko, Danielle Jacobson, and Ian Bournelis will see their hard work soar into orbit during a rocket launch from NASA’s Wallop’s Island Flight Facility this Thursday. The launch, scheduled to take place between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., will host 17 experiments from universities around the country.
Among the Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket’s payload are four configurations of piezoelectric cantilevers designed by the Drexel students to test “the feasibility of using piezoelectric materials to convert the mechanical vibration energy of a launch vehicle in to usable electric potential for small satellites.” Currently, batteries on small satellites must be powered down to avoid complications during launch leaving many researchers to wonder if their satellites can be turned on once in orbit.
As rockets make their way in to space they release massive amounts of energy through vibration. The students, in coordination with the RockSat-C Cansisterized Satellite Program, plan to test the feasibility of harnessing that energy to power small satellites once in orbit. It’s their hope that one day this method might be used to solve current battery issues.
The rocket launch will be visible from Ocean City, Md. Other viewing locations can be found using this visibility map. NASA will also host a live webcast of the launch. The students were advised by Dr. Jin Kang of the Drexel Space Systems Laboratory.