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The STEM project team of Fourth Year students recently travelled from Trinity School, Croydon, to the European Space Agency to launch their ‘CanSat’ up on a small rocket. 

They have been working on their own simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can, for several months. This was their opportunity to get it ready for launch, to test the communication links, design and build of the satellite casing itself and the parachute to bring it back down to earth. 

Project Manager Iwo Ligeza reports, “The Trinity team’s CanSat launch on Wednesday 7 March was unlucky. We had completed the onsite prep of the satellite, checked its code and hardware over and over. Yet, against all odds, five minutes before launch when we were assembling the satellite the Pi Pico decided to stop working. 

“We had had similar problems before the launch day and had been able to fix it. Unfortunately, this time, we had too little time to fix the hardware and we had to launch the satellite, ‘dead’.  

“However, where our software had failed, we made up for with engineering and aesthetics. We were one of the only groups to have 3D printed our satellite and our parachute was great. The other teams had metal satellites with no top and bottom, fixing this problem with gaffer tape. We on the other hand had a meticulously planned layout of the satellite so that all the internals could fit in nicely. 

“The satellites were carried to 300m. At launch, our satellite released out of the rocket smoothly, opening its parachute. The hole we cut into it to make sure its trajectory was stable and even had worked wonders and our CanSat was the only one not spinning uncontrollably. Overall, we had a very good trip, despite our bad luck in the run up to launch.” 

The launch was the scientific experiment, the team achieved a safe landing, though were unable to demonstrate their technology on the day. However, this is all part of the experiment, and they will now be analysing the data collected to submit a further report and hope to progress to the national stage of the competition. Well done and we wish them luck for the next stage! 


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