The Puerto Rico CubeSat NanoRocks-2 (PR-CuNaR2), The first Puerto Rican satellite was launched this morning into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The satellite, -which was part of Mission 23 of the SpaceX company-, was developed and built by students from the School of Engineering of the Bayamón campus of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico (INTER) and is part of the ElaNa 36 project of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
PR-CuNaR2 was launched in the Dragon capsule from SpaceX23 to the International Space Station. The tour, from takeoff to arrival at the International Space Station, will last nine hours.
What will be the mission of the Puerto Rican satellite?
The PR-CuNaR2 will study the origin and development of planets and young stars, as explained by Professor Amílcar Rincón Charris, head of the project.
The satellite, which weighs 5.6 pounds and measures four inches wide by four inches long and 12 inches high, completed its tests in July.
Inside, the satellite has stainless steel and silicon microparticles that emulate asteroids. As it orbits in space, the microparticles will be colliding.
The satellite is ready to orbit for two years, but it could be longer. Then, it will be attracted by the atmosphere until it disintegrates.
The team that developed the project chose the 56º orbit to place the PR-CuNaR2 so that it can pass over Puerto Rico twice a day for 10 minutes. In this way, the satellite will pass more times through Puerto Rico than in other orbits.
Some 65 students, between women and men, have been part of the development of PR-CuNaR2, which began in March 2018, although the design and construction prototype began in 2013. Many of these students have already graduated.
Other curious facts about PR-CuNaR2:
1. The lid of the satellite box bears the names of the three students and the teacher who delivered the PR-CuNaR2. The cap will be returned, once NASA retrieves it.
2. The flag of Puerto Rico has been accompanying the satellite at all times. When the students Wilhem Sánchez Rodríguez, Jesús Marrero Colón and Carlos Vergara Quiles and professor Amílcar Rincón Charris arrived at the facilities of Nanoracks in Houston, Texas to do the last tests on the PR-CuNaR2, the work team of Nanoracks appointed to do the inspections, he pulled out a flag of Puerto Rico and placed it next to the United States and Texas. In fact, lThe Puerto Rican flag was larger than the other two.
3. the PR-CuNaR2 carries the number 2 at the end because there was a previous study created by the Florida Space Institute that investigated the same phenomenon, but with larger particles. This study was called Nanorocks.
4. The proposal of the PR-CuNaR2 he surrendered days after Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was about to lose the opportunity to have a satellite in space due to the destruction caused by María, which affected electricity service and the lack of Internet throughout the country. The proposal was approved by NASA in March 2018.
5. The original release of the PR-CuNaR2 It was scheduled for 2020 and was postponed for this year, due to the pandemic.