NASA rocket launches UH student project into space


wallops-launch-nasa-jamie-adkinsUniversity of Hawaii community college students watched their scientific payload spin into space today when a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket was launched around midnight Hawaii time from NASAʻs Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The UH Community College team was the only community college whose payload was selected for this launch. Payloads developed by students from seven higher education programs were aboard the rocket.

The UH Community College students are part of a collaboration known as Project Imua (Hawaiian for ‘to move forward’). Comprised of four UH Community College campuses, Project Imua involves a joint faculty-student enterprise for designing, fabricating and testing payloads.

  • Kauaʻi CC designed and built the payload’s instrumentation.
  • Honolulu CC designed the payload’s electronic circuitry for power and telemetry.
  • Kapiʻolani CC designed the associated print circuit board.
  • Windward CC integrated all the components together and performed static tests on the payload.
  • Both Windward CC and Kauaʻi CC designed and constructed the payload’s mechanical housing.

The scientific instrument that forms the main component of Project Imua’s payload consists of a UV spectrometer that will analyze the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation before it enters Earth’s atmosphere. The data could have implications regarding climate.


Project Imua is funded by a two-year $500,000 grant awarded under the NASA Space Grant Competitive Opportunity for Partnerships with Community Colleges and Technical Schools. Project Imua is supported by UH Mānoa, UH’s main Hawaii Space Grant Consortium campus, which provides technical assistance through Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory’s resources and personnel.

After achieving an altitude of 94-miles, plans were for the payload with the students’ experiments to be recovered in the Atlantic Ocean off of the Virginia coast. The experiments and any stored data would then be provided to the teams to analyze.

Photos courtesy University of Hawaii and Jamie Adkins/NASA.

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