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Small Satellite Research Lab become Space Dawgs

Alan Flurry

A handful of ambitious University of Georgia students set out three years ago to launch UGA into space, and their work has launched a campus initiative to push the boundaries of space systems development:

Self-described “geeks” Caleb Adams BS ’18 and Hollis Neel BS ’17 were two of the handful of friends drawn together by their knack for tackling tech and software conundrums.

“I was looking for the most difficult thing I could find and throwing myself at it,” Neel says. “That’s a theme you’ll find with a lot of us: We really enjoy a challenge.”

Four of the students had recently created a user-friendly, smartphone-controlled telescope and launched a company to sell their product. When they were done with that, they decided that instead of just looking up into outer space, they wanted to send a gadget into it.

They found an opportunity with cube satellites, or CubeSats, a class of miniature spacecraft shaping the next stage of space technology. CubeSats are compact and fairly inexpensive, at least compared to large communications and research satellites. Because they’re small and cheap, and because there have been huge strides in fitting high-powered computers into tiny devices, CubeSats are tissue box-sized vessels for innovation.

Captivated by the possibility, Adams—sometimes referred to as “the ringleader” of the group—wanted to build one. He remembers thinking, “How hard can it be?”

Championed and advised by faculty in geography, computer science, mathematics and physics and astronomy as well as by Franklin College dean Alan Dorsey and alumnus Roger Hunter, the Small Sat Lab has achieved remarkable results in a very short time. Congratulations to the students and faculty on their work and inspiration to boldly go, for pushing UGA to where it had never been. Nice video accompanies the Georgia Magazine story.

Image: Georgia Magazine cover illustration.


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