‘Cats Build a Satellite


Stephanie Weisberger, Reporter

The Thin Satellite Project is up and running for this school year. A group of students is working with VMI to build a satellite which is planning be launched into space.

Robotics, Electronics, and Engineering teacher Tate Jarvis is supervising the project.

“The club that we have right now is working on the Thin Satellite Project. The satellite that we are building will hopefully go into space at some point. Right now we have four students on the Thin Satellite Project.” said Jarvis

Jarvis has put a lot of work into the Thin Satellite Project this year.

“This year I really don’t have a Robotics Club. The club that I typically have is the Skills USA Club. Historically, we have had a minimum of four members and as many as 20,” said Jarvis. “The focus previously was on an audio system, but once the audio system was installed in the auditorium, we didn’t do as much audio as we used to do. We looked for things to focus on like the Thin Satellite Project.”

This will be a continuous effort with VMI through the entire school year.

“We are doing the Thin Satellite project in conjunction with VMI and Virginia Space.  It is a project that culminates in actually launching a circuit board into space for five days, making it a five day orbit,” said Jarvis. “ If it works, we will get data, and it will burn up on re-entry. The full balloon launch is another year-long project.”

Junior Robert Danforth shared what he was doing to prepare for the project.

The preparation for this project was just being in the electronics program, but to join the project you had to excel in the class and stand out to Mr. Jarvis,” said Danforth.

There are characteristics and features for the project.

“The project has one main goal and two steps to get there.  First, we build a mock up of the satellite using a kit provided by the program. This will be tested by launching it by drone or balloon, said Danfoth. “This will let us simulate and practice for the second part, which is building ten real satellites. We are still in part one with building the kit mock-up and testing it.”

Danforth also discussed the final goals of the project and the steps to get there.

“The project has one main goal and two steps to get there. The final goal would be an assembly of a micro satellite that would be launched into space along with hundreds of others from different high schools. This would provide data and experiments that we could see.” said Danforth.

Jarvis has goals for what he wants to see come from the project.

“We want to finish all phases of the project and have the balloon launch at the RCHS campus. We want to get the circuit board working, and we want to complete the phases,” said Jarvis.

“Phase I is a mock launch (a giant helium balloon which is a large weather balloon).  We send the circuit board out West, and they launch it up into low earth orbit in a much larger balloon.  Danforth explained the large-scale goal of the project.

Danforth shared his favorite part of the project.

“My favorite part is really the concept of the whole thing. If fully completed, our project  would end with a satellite in space. That is a big, cool factor for me, which is why I enjoy it, “said Danforth.