Paul Guzzo, Staff Writer for the Tampa Bay Times, offered an updated article this weekend regarding a spot on the inaugural voyage of NASA's most powerful rocket ever as it paves the way for the future exploration of Mars will be taken up by a Tampa team.
A 17-member Tampa-based group called Team Miles designed a miniature satellite that will be on the unmanned rocket Space Launch System that NASA hopes to launch into deep space in 2019. The announcement last Thursday was the culmination of a two year contest called the Cube Quest Challenge. NASA challenged teams not directly connected to the federal agency to develop miniature satellites called CubeSats that can broadcast from deep space.
Team Miles' CubeSat will be just under 12 inches on its longest side and will cost $600,000 to build, making it easier and cheaper to deploy than traditional bulky satellites. Team Miles was one of 13 teams to enter the contest and placed third among the finalists, with the top three finishers all offered space on this journey. No cubesat has ever been sent into deep space, but when NASA explores Mars one day, it hopes CubeSats can transmit data.
"Shock and joy," team leader Wes Faler told the Tampa Bay Times by phone just moments after hearing the news at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. "This is unbelievable."