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Air Force's Falcon Sat-X cruising miles above your head

Posted at 7:54 AM, Nov 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-20 09:56:24-05

A satellite made by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy is now orbiting miles above Earth.

FalconSat X
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Cadet First Class Amanda Beach and Cadet First Class Cole Turner fasten a solar array substrate to the FalconSat X structural engineering model in the Department of Astronautics at the United States Air Force Academy on Oct. 15, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joshua Armstrong)

It's called Falcon Sat-X, and it's actually the ninth satellite that has been launched by the academy. Seniors have been working on the project since the fall of 2019 as part of the engineering capstone course, according to the academy.

Daily operations of the satellite, as well as two other cadet-built satellites still in orbit, are managed by the Cadet Space Operations Squadron.

“This is a real-world spacecraft program,” Lt. Col. Dan Showalter, the director for the Space Systems Research Center, said. “The cadets perform work similar to young U.S. Space Force officers and engineers in the industry.”

Engineers (from left) Braden Virdell, Seth Hart, Zane Sauer and Jack Hallowell watch U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet 1st Class Parker Brush operate FalconSAT-X from the Department of Astronautics Space Systems Research Center after its launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The satellite launched at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Nov. 11, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Pacheco)

It was launched on Saturday, November 11 at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It's what's known as a micro-satellite, roughly the size of a large Amazon box, but it weighs around 400 pounds.

The Air Force Academy said the new satellite will help support technological and scientific experiments.

Click here to learn more about the FalconSat Program.

Air Force's Falcon Sat-X cruising miles above your head