Kindai University’s SpaceTuna1 headed to ISS onboard NG-18: The S.S. Sally Ride

We’re taking fish to the International Space Station (ISS). Well, SpaceTuna1 to be more precise.  SpaceTuna1 is a 1U CubeSat developed by Japan’s Kindai University students to run an experiment to investigate the performance of retroreflective materials in space by using the satellite.

Founded in 1925, Kindai University is one of Japan’s largest universities with six campuses in western Japan and world-class research facilities across the country. With more than 30,000 students and 500,000 alumni, Kindai University conducts research in a wide range of fields and is making a name for itself as a leader in aquaculture, most notably for its work with bluefin tuna. 

Hence, the SpaceTuna1 cubesat. 

For this research project, retroreflective material is mounted on the CubeSat, and the reflection characteristics are observed by irradiating a laser from the ground. The CubeSat is also equipped with blue LEDs so that it can be observed from a telescope on the ground. The mission period is a half a year.

“It was a tough project, but we are very happy to reach the launch of SpaceTuna1,” said Kumiko Nobukawa, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the Kindai team. “The SpaceTuna1 project began with the students’ strong desire to launch a CubeSat. The students’ involvement in CubeSat development has actually had a great educational benefit. SpaceTuna1 is our first fish. We hope to continue sending ‘fish’ into space in the future.”

Spaceflight Inc. will be taking the university’s payload to space as part of the MDS-2 mission, our second mission with Mitsui Deployment Service (MDS). 

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch the Cygnus cargo freighter on NASA’s next cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The resupply mission, known as NG-18: The S.S. Sally Ride, is currently scheduled to lift off from Pad 0A at Wallops Island Virginia on November 6 at 5:50 a.m. EST.  The spacecraft will be deployed from the ISS about a month later. 

Kindai University contracted through Spaceflight to secure the launch, and together worked with MBA (Mitsui Bussan Aerospace) and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to deliver the SpaceTuna1 payload to JAXA where it was integrated into J-SSOD-R, the deployment dispenser. The dispenser then was transported to NASA’s facilities at Wallops for final integration to the Cygnus vehicle.

“We are honored to play a role in the NG-18 resupply mission, named after former NASA astronaut Sally Ride,” said Sean Stoker, mission director for Spaceflight, Inc. “Launching Kindai University’s scientific research payload on this historic mission is very fitting as Sally Ride was a steadfast advocate for providing opportunities for quality STEM education to young girls and boys. This mission furthers her legacy.”

Follow us on Twitter @spaceflightinc for more launch updates. Godspeed SpaceTuna1!

Photo: SpaceTuna1 (© Kindai University)

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