Four Iowa State University students plan to get really high during their spring break with the full support of the faculty and a government agency. The four I-S-U engineering students will go to Houston in March where they’ll fly on NASA’s famous “Vomit Comet” — a K-C-135 jet that allows them to be weightless for a short time. Project leader David Shoemaker, a senior from West Des Moines, says they were one of 69 projects chosen in a nationwide competition. He says there’s an on-line guideline for things they needed to address and there’s also an outreach portion of the contest. He says they plan to go out to schools to talk about their project and NASA. Their project involves a satellite called “Cycadet” that would take pictures of earth.He says they’re building a “pico satellite” that’s really small, 10 centimeters on a side and weighing less than one kilogram. He says they’ll use the weightless flight to test spin controls on a mini satellite they’re designed to stop it from spinning once it’s released into orbit. Shoemaker says they’re using their spring break for the tests, and will begin with NASA training for the flight.He says they’ll spend one week in Houston training for the weightless flight before actually taking off. Another group of I-S-U students was also chosen to test their project in July. Shoemaker says it’s an exciting time to be involved in space projects, especially after the President’s call for a manned mission to Mars Shoemaker says I-S-U’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Iowa Space Grant Consortium are helping fund the construction of the satellite and the costs of the trip to Houston. NASA pays for the weightless flight. It’ll be the second and third time a group of I-S-U students have taken part in the program.
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