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West Virginia's first space satellite makes successful launch and flight

West Virginia-built STF-1 satellite roars into space from a rocket laboratory launch pad in New Zealand. (Rocket Lab)

West Virginia's first space satellite is still flying, and experiments from the bread box sized spacecraft are expected to go on for about another six months after a December launch.

The Fairmont-based engineers are breathing easier after a successful launch.

Last month, the West Virginia-built STF-1 satellite roared into space from a rocket lab launch pad in New Zealand. Researchers in Fairmont are conducting experiments with the tiny spacecraft they built. It will evaluate software, simulation technology and check on space weather and other experiments developed with West Virginia University.

“I would say that putting STF-1, you know, West Virginia's first spacecraft into space was

the hardest thing I'd done up to this point in my career,” Matt Grubb of the Jon McBride Software Testing and Research Laboratory. “The complexity of this spacecraft, fitting in something so small is very difficult to do. "

The researchers, investigators and engineers were in Charleston to show off the state's first spacecraft to a technology committee.

“So far, so good,” said Scott Zimerick, a systems engineer on STF-1 “The data that we received has been excellent. We've had, I believe to date, nine successful passes. The model illustrates how they squeezed a computer, radio, solar panels and the experiments into a compact package.”

Justin Morris, STF-1 principal investigator, said a lot of people provided assistance in finding resources for the project.

“We really appreciate everybody's help,” Morris said. “Total material costs for the mission was around $185,000. Total development costs about $1 million."

STF-1 stands for Simulation to Flight, the kind of work lead engineer Grubb and his team do for NASA in Fairmont.

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