Students' project is out of this world

Students' project is out of this world
Mr Charlie Soon, 28, with a prototype of Velox-PII. a 1.3kg satellite his group had worked on for their final year project.

Mr Charlie Soon had always thought that building a satellite within a short period of time was impossible, let alone have it launched into space.

But the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students' satellite, which he had been working on with a group for just over a year, is now orbiting in space.

Last Thursday, the satellite, Velox-PII, was launched on board Russia's RS-20B rocket from the Yasny Launch Base in Russia at 3.10pm Singapore time.

It began transmitting data 24 hours later.

The satellite, which weighs about 1.3kg, was built by 20 NTU students, including Mr Soon, as part of their final-year project in 2009.

It is also Singapore's second satellite owned by NTU, following the launch of the X-SAT on April 20, 2011.

Mr Soon, 28, who is currently doing a PhD in solar and energy power systems in NTU, said that the experience of building a satellite proved to be unique, but rather tricky.

He told The New Paper: "I felt excited right away when we were told that we were about to build a satellite that would be launched into space. But this project is not just about the end product, but also the journey... "

Mr Soon worked on the power management system of the Velox project while other group members were tasked to complete different parts of the satellite according to their expertise, such as mechanical and computer engineering.

"Our only 'salvation' at the end of a busy day was to have supper together," said Mr Soon, who graduated with first-class honours in electrical and electronic engineering in 2010.

Mr Soon recalled that the whole team gathered at NTU's ground station on the day of the launch.

"Once we were able to detect signals from the satellite, all of us rejoiced as our product had finally reached its destination and was fully operational," he said.

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