With support from Swales
Aerospace, students at Montana State University’s Space Science and
Engineering Laboratory have successfully deployed a satellite antenna using an
experimental release mechanism.
Designed and built by the MSU students, the
antenna release was demonstrated from onboard the NASA KC-135 test platform
often referred to as the “Vomit Comet,” which uses hyperbolic maneuvers to
create the same micro-gravity conditions found in space.
As a result of the
students’ success, the antenna and release mechanism will fly on the Montana
EaRth Orbiting Pico Explorer (MEROPE) satellite that will launch in November
2002 and will measure radiation in the Van Allen belts that surround the edges
of the earth’s atmosphere.

“This has been a tremendous experience for the students,” said Tom Wilson,
CEO of Swales Aerospace.
“They built their mechanism in less than eight weeks
and we understand it worked as designed.
It’s quite an achievement and we’re
pleased to have been able to provide some assistance,” he added.

The team received primary funding from the NASA/Montana Space Grant
Swales’ principal contribution was providing mentoring for the
MEROPE students’ team in mechanisms and electronics and power control systems.

Founded in 1978, Swales Aerospace provides state-of-the-art engineering
solutions and spacecraft, as well as a broad range of structural and thermal
management systems, for the global satellite industry.
Swales’ end-to-end
mission capabilities include spacecraft and instrument design and analysis,
fabrication, integration and testing, ground control and data collection.
Based in Beltsville, Md., Swales employs more than 900 aerospace professionals
and reported 2001 revenues of $140 million.
A member of the Maryland World
Class Manufacturing Consortium, Swales can be located on the World Wide Web at
http://www.swales.com .