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NASA Funds Launch of Shoebox-Size Space QubeSat From Berkeley Students

By IQT News posted 19 May 2020

(InterestingEngineering) A team at UC Berkeley hopes to launch a quantum CubeSat into space, and they already have NASA’s funding. NASA offered to cover the launch costs — upwards of $300,000 — for the CubeSat Launch Initiative, which was developed to fly small experiments as auxiliary payloads on nominal rocket launches. NOTE: QubeSat is short for quantum CubeSat.
The Berkeley team’s satellite will soon test a new kind of gyroscope based on the quantum mechanical interactions that happen in imperfect diamonds. The diamond gyroscope was first invented at Berkeley, in the laboratory of physicist Dmitry Budker, professor of the graduate school.
The undergraduate team behind the QubeSat is also part of an undergraduate aerospace club called Space Technologies at Cal (STAC), which has already flown experiments with help from balloons and the International Space Station — magnificent for a group that’s only four years old. Some of the intrepid team’s graduates have moved on to work at world-historical aerospace companies, like Boeing, SpaceX, and several others.
“The NASA grant is just for the launch, so we have still got to supply and manufacture the satellite ourselves,” said Köttering, a junior and majoring in applied mathematics and physics.The UC Berkeley team is now trying to raise $15,000 via crowdfunding, and also campus’ Big Give campaign, and is looking for donated equipment from several manufacturers. The team has already received a $4,950 grant from the UC Berkeley Student Technology Fund.

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