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Showing posts from March, 2018

Day 5 - Pulling it All Together

Today started with the pack up!  We gathered our luggage and collected it together at the hotel to prepare for our mid afternoon departure.  But first - a great day of learning and wrapping up was to be had.

We departed from the hotel and headed to visit NanoRacks.  This is a private contractor that facilitates the use of "Cube Satellites" on the ISS.  These are 4" x 4" x 4" satellites that can be loaded with electronics, sensors, cameras, and/or whatever developers dream up.  NanoRacks provides some of the structure and framework for research to take place both on the ISS directly as well as to launch CubeSats from ISS into Low Earth Orbit.  We got to see some Cubes and hear about the process of preparing them and launching them into orbit.
This was the most direct connection to our engineering project - as we created a satellite ejector system to run on the PABF (Precision Air Bearing Floor).  It was a great way to see the value of the teamwork of our group.

Day 4 - Successful Launch

We started our day by listening to a presentation about Space-X and Boeing's progress on getting astronauts to the International Space Station. The presenter explained what the future may bring and the possibility of launching American astronauts from American soil rather than from other places like Russia.
We also took a field trip to the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBC). There we were given a tour of the 202 ft by 102 ft 6.2 million gallon pool where astronauts can practice space-walks. They also use the pool to simulate water landings with the Orion spacecraft.

When we got back to building 9, we started our one-hour testing session. We had problems with the laptop being hooked up to the Arduino. Eventually, we had to leave the laptop connected to the Arduino while the SLED was launched. However, once we fixed that, we slowly worked our way closer and closer to the goal. We did that by editing the code to keep the SLED shooting consistently. We ended up getting 3 goals by the en…

Day 3 - Tours and a Surprise Visit!

We started out the day working on our SLED and the teachers had fun on the POGO.  POGO is a simulator used by NASA since the 1960's to simulate low gravity and weightlessness EVA maneuvers.

After this we went back up to our work room and heard a presentation from Matt Lemke. He talked to us about the scientific research that goes on at the ISS. 

We were interrupted by astronaut Joe Acaba who has been back on the ground for 3 weeks now, having been on ISS for about 6 months. He answered questions we had and we got pictures with him.
Here's a video of Joe on ISS that was just released today about one of the experiments he was running.

Shortly after this we were split up and groups went to the VR and the Simulations of the Orion Capsule. After the Orion capsule visit, we walked through mission control.

Following this, we worked our way back to building 9 and built accelerometers and then went to go test them at the Kema boardwalk.  This is a tourist area nearby on the shore of a coast…

Day 2 - Space Vehicle Mock Up and Test Runs

Today we went to the Space Vehicle mock up facility. While there we had to present our SLED to make sure it passed all safety regulations and we passed!

We met our NASA Mentor in person today and had a chance to talk with him a bunch.  He had some useful suggestions about our SLED and shared interesting stories of his work with ISS Robotics.

We did a few test runs, but we fully test our SLED on Thursday. As it goes for the other teams we got to see how their SLEDs work.

While testing we learned that we had to change our delay time, and that our string was being cut by sharp edges on the motor.

Notice on this run the battery in our launched puck was about empty.  It stops sliding freely as it approaches the target.

We were able to meet Astronaut Serena M. Aunon Chancellor for about 5 minutes!  We learned that she is going up to the ISS on June 6th.  This will be her first trip to space.  She is a practicing medical doctor and has an engineering background!

This is a panorama of part of…

Day 1: Travel Day!

Today (Monday) was our travel day.  Monday morning we left very early and headed to MSP.  We flew from MSP to DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) on a Boeing 737 leaving at 6:50AM.   It was a very sleepy flight!

Once we arrived at DFW, we took a SkyLink across the airport and got on a regional style jet and took a short flight to Houston Hobby.

After we arrived in Houston we shuttled to our hotel and went out for lunch. We visted the Steak & Shake for delicious steakburgers, fries, and of course, milkshakes! We enjoyed our milkshakes in the sunshine and 80 degree weather, a lovely change from Minnesota!

After our lunch we met the other teams and traveled to Space Center Houston. There we toured the 747 used to transport the Independence, and a re-creation of the Independence (a Space Shuttle mock up that didn't fly). We also saw a lunar rover and the history of space suits! We even touched a piece of lunar rock! We had a great time getting our tourist on, and spent some quality time in t…
Houston, we have landed!!

As we await our shuttle to the hotel, we're excited to meet our colleagues this afternoon!

Here we go!

A Summary So Far...

Since January of this year, the Kato Launch Squad team has worked on the SLED, logos, data analysis, coding, and reaching out to the community to share the exciting opportunity that the team has been given. After many hours were spent on drafting concepts for the SLED, a final design was chosen and put together by late February.

The coding process was also a difficult task, as the coding determined when and how the SLED would autonomously launch. However, we were able to quickly recover after focused brainstorming and problem-solving brought us to a solution. The team also persevered through any trials that crossed our paths, such as modifying the SLED’s satellite release system, which has been nicknamed the Cradle Stopping Mechanism (CSM).

On February 28th, a conference call was held between the Kato Launch Squad team and a select NASA mentor to confirm design choices and finalize the presentation for the following day. On March 1st, Kato Launch Squad presented our entire plan and S…


Our work has arrive at NASA and is ready for us!


Our box has left the building.  Its on its way to NASA to meet us there soon!

The Plan...

Kato Launch Squad is a team made up of several students from both Mankato East and Mankato West High Schools, in Mankato, MN.

We are one of ten teams selected from across the nation to participate in NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators.

In March, four selected students and two educators will travel to Johnson Space Center to test the Satellite Launching Experimental Device (SLED) we have built, while the rest of the team will be staying back at HQ to support the team from home.

While there, we will have one goal: that is to successfully shoot a mock satellite, and make it into a moving target!

Here is a Twitter photo of the team testing our system in the lobby at West.

Socially! Follow us...

The team met to work from 1:30 - 5PM today, Sunday March 4th.

The writing team updated blog, published logo, and updated social media.
We are on social media in several places!

Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:
The building team mounted electronics on SLED.
We all ran test runs to discover trigger settings.
The team modified satellite holder/release system.