Idaho's first satellite, Makersat-0, launched into space and is now orbiting the Earth.
Engineering students from Northwest Nazarene University designed the satellite.
"It's been a really long road and a lot of hard work” Mitchell Kamstra said. “But it's definitely been a really rewarding project.
Makersat-0 will collect data testing how different 3-D printed plastics degrade in space.
This project stems from another idea: 3-D printing a satellite known as Makersat-1.
"Obviously our goal is to 3-D print a satellite, so it makes sense to determine what the best 3-D printed plastic to use would be in space,” Kamstra said.
Makersat-1 will be assembled in space.
"3-D printing the frame is the goal on the International Space Station, building all of the electronics here on earth and sending them up," he said.
That launch will make history. It will be the first time a 3-D printed satellite is assembled and deployed from the International Space Station.
"If we were to 3-D print these in space, they won’t need to withstand any launches,” Kamstra said. “They'll just be pushed out into space where they don't experience any gravity at all."
Instead of the months or years it would take to get a satellite to space from Earth the data collection can happen on demand.
"If we were to have all of these electronics on board the International Space Station,” he said. “We can email them a design, they can 3D print it, snap it together and have it in orbit within minutes.”
Changing how data is collected in space. The idea and design coming from a small university right here in the Treasure Valley.
"We actually put a satellite into space,” Kamstra said. “It’s kind of hard to comprehend."
A rocket carrying the electronics for Makersat-1 is expected to launch in January 2018.