A satellite developed by junior high school children from Ubatuba, São Paulo state, was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, on Friday (Dec. 9).
Named UbatubaSat, the students' satellite can be the first fully Brazilian satellite to operate in orbit, where it will be able to measure the distance of space probes, detect forming space bubbles, communicate with amateur radio operators, and send messages recorded by students.
The idea for the project emerged in 2010 when Cândido Osvaldo de Moura, a Physics teacher, learned that a US company was working on a launch vehicle and selling assembly kits for small satellites that could be launched by the company.
Moura thought he could propose it as a challenge to his students. Back then, he was a Maths teacher at a municipal school in Ubatuba. “We thought it would be an exciting project for sixth graders, who at an average age of ten could become the youngest people in the world to complete a space project,” he explained.
He said that small satellite type emerged in the 1990s to be used for learning purposes at universities. With technical support and funding from the National Space Research Institute (INPE) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), the teacher tailored the experiment for use with his younger students.
The satellite took three years to complete. The building stage was led by six students, but a total 400 worked on the project, which involved other science activities as well.
Moura and his pupils watched the launch from INPE's headquarters in São José dos Campos, São Paulo state.
“The most important thing we gained from this experience was what students learned. We wanted students to have an early contact with science and technology. And that we have achieved successfully,” the teacher concluded.
Translated by Mayra Borges