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A rocket carrying a CatSat built by University of Arizona students lights up the western Arizona sky

A rocket carrying a CatSat built by University of Arizona students lights up the western Arizona sky

A rocket carrying a CatSat built by University of Arizona students lights up the western Arizona sky

PHOENIX (AZ family) —We’ve seen plenty of Space X rockets flying across our western horizon over the past few months, but on Wednesday night, we witnessed a launch that carried a bit of Arizona ingenuity into orbit!

After a couple of quiet nights, Firefly Aerospace’s “Noise of Summer” launch began from Vandenburg Space Force Base shortly after 9 p.m.

According to the private aerospace company’s calculations, optimal visibility in Arizona was low on the western horizon about two minutes after launch.

Viewers from across Arizona sent us photos and videos of the rocket plume.

The Firefly rocket is much smaller than SpaceX’s Falcon 9, so it wasn’t as spectacular in the night sky.

However, it still had the “jellyfish effect,” where the setting sun illuminates the rocket plume.

Aboard the Alpha FLTA005 rocket, Firefly launched eight shoebox-sized CubeSats selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI).

According to the company, CSLI offers universities and nonprofit organizations across the country, along with small private satellite developers, low-cost access to conduct scientific research and technology demonstrations in space.

One of the small satellites has been dubbed “CatSat” and was designed and produced by students and faculty at the University of Arizona.

Approximately 52 minutes after liftoff, CatSat will be placed into orbit and a first-of-its-kind balloon antenna will be inflated to test high-speed communications.

According to NASA, once inflated, the CubeSat is ready to transmit high-definition photos of Earth to ground stations at 50 megabits per second, more than five times faster than typical home Internet speeds.

Officials say CatSat will orbit Earth every 95 minutes for about six months, collecting data on space weather.

"Firefly" release schedule
Timeline of the release of “Firefly”.(Firefly Aerospace)
"Cat satellite" It is configured to test high-speed communications using a unique balloon antenna.
“CatSat” is intended to test high-speed communications using a unique balloon antenna.(POT)
"Cat satellite" Developers from the University of Arizona.
“CatSat” developers from the University of Arizona.(POT)

If you caught tonight’s launch, please share your photos with us and be sure to tag where you are in the state!

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