Team Miles, a 17-member Tampa-based group, will have a spot on NASA’s most powerful rocket inaugural voyage as it paves the way for exploration of Mars in the future. Team Miles engineered a miniature satellite that will be on an unmanned rocket Space Launch System which NASA aspires to launch into deep space in 2019.
Team leader, Wes Faler, told the Tampa Bay Times via phone just few moments after hearing the news at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, “Shock and joy. This is unbelievable.”
The announcement made was the culmination of a two-year long contest called the Cube Quest Challenge. The contest was for teams not directly connected to the federal agency to create miniature satellites known as CubeSats that are able to broadcast from deep space.
Team Miles’ CubeSat is actually cheaper and easier to deploy than the usual bulky satellite because it is only under 12 inches on its longest side. Made up of 10 cubic centimeter size individual units, the CubeSat costs $600,000 to build.
Faler said, “We wanted to keep believing and keep hoping but when you se the other strong competitors we wondered at times of we had a real chance. When we heard our name called we went bananas.”
On four different occassions, Team Miles had to submit hundreds of pages of their study with the details on how their satellite will work.
Faler said, “We’ve talked to a few investor but everybody drags their feet until they find out if they are betting on a winner. No one wanted to bet on a horse until they saw the results.”
Team Miles’ satellite will be released near the moon — 238,000 miles from Earth — and will then push itself as far as 28 million miles farther.
Faler said, “This is not just a win for us. This a win a Tampa. We’re putting Tampa into deep space toward Mars.”