Education

Irvine Students Soar into Space to Capture a Place in History

image of a student working on robotics

image of a student working on robotics

Not many high school students can add “launching a satellite into orbit” as an accomplishment on their college-entry applications.

Thanks to the Irvine CubeSat STEM Program (ICSP), launched by Irvine Public Schools Foundation, high school students from six Irvine schools – including Portola High School within Great Park Neighborhoods – are gaining valuable hands-on experience in launching a satellite into orbit. The nano-satellites collect data, take pictures, and allow the students to perform orbital maneuvers and experiments.   

The launch of IRVINE03 satellite, which was rescheduled from spring 2020 to early 2021, will be the third fully-functioning 30-pound nanosatellite developed by the Irvine students. Each high school’s team is responsible for a different part of the satellite—avionics, communication, propulsion, etc.—with each group working after school and with leading scientists in various disciplines toward the goal.

image of a student working on robotics

In 2018, rockets blasted into space from launch sites in New Zealand and California, carrying IRVINE01 and IRVINE02, fully functioning satellites built by the teams of Irvine high school students. It was the first time in history that two student-built CubeSats were launched into orbit in less than a year—and the Irvine team did it in less than a month.

IRVINE03 will include a sensor to measure x-rays from the Crab Nebula Pulsar. It also will include S-Band software defined radio, an improved laser communication system, larger deployable solar array and a new camera for star tracking.

FivePoint’s joint venture has supported CubeSAT programs through a major sponsorship.