Cadet-built satellite launches into space
Cadets watch the deployment of FalconSAT-X on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, from the Department of Astronautics Space Systems Research Center Nov. 11, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Pacheco)
By Randy Roughton
U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.- U.S. Air Force Academy cadets celebrated as they watched the launch of the FalconSAT-X satellite from the Department of Astronautics Space Systems Research Center Nov. 11. FalconSAT-X launched from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 mission at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.
Learn space by doing space
Seniors from each Academy class since 2019 worked on FalconSAT-X. In the U.S. Air Force Academy Department of Astronautics FalconSAT program, cadets learn space by doing space through real-world satellite development and operations.
Cadets design, analyze, build, test and operate small satellites hosting technology experiments funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory. The Cadet Space Operations Squadron conducts daily operations for on-orbit FalconSATs. Their testing is the space equivalent to flight testing, said Cadet 1st Class Parker Brush.
“It is similar to the Space Force in that we are very thorough with our testing,” Brush said. “When creating the satellites, we have different methods that we go through, which are very similar to the way the big Air Force does their testing through, not just satellites but also parts when creating a new airplane frame model.”
Engineers (from left) Braden Virdell, Seth Hart, Zane Sauer and Jack Hallowell watch U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet 1st Class Parker Brush operate FalconSAT-X from the Department of Astronautics Space Systems Research Center after its launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Nov. 11, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Pacheco)
Initial Contact Team
Brush and Cadets 1st Class Ashley Nies and…