We’ve been working with the Cal Poly CubeSat (PolySat) team to create custom shirts for a few years now.  They stand out not only because of building miniature satellites, but they always send us cool shirt designs featuring the tiny satellites that they build.

Can you explain more about PolySat?

The Cal Poly CubeSat Lab (or PolySat) is a student run, multidisciplinary independent research lab. We are the CubeSat development team of Cal Poly, an originator and leader for launches in the CubeSat community. A CubeSat is at minimum a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm (also called a 1U) satellite which can be developed for a relatively low cost.

The CubeSat standard was created by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Stanford University’s Space Systems Development Lab in 1999 to facilitate access to space for university students. Since then the standard has been adopted by hundreds of organizations worldwide. CubeSat developers include not only universities and educational institutions, but also private firms and government organizations.

This allows students and other research institutions to perform experiments and participate in space exploration. Most of our launches are through the NASA ELaNa program and we have worked with various teams such as NASA Goddard, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SRI and Scientific Solutions. Our program has launched 8 satellites and is actively working on several more.

What are the different teams like and do you often all work together?

We have six different teams: ATLO, Mechanical Team, Electrical Team, Software Team and Aerospace Team. PolySat consists of students majoring in Mechanical, Electrical, Software, Aerospace, Materials, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, as well as Physics, Business, Journalism and Graphic Design.

Do you have any events you look forward to each year?

Every year we have the CubeSat Developer’s Workshop, which is where over 300 attendees from all over the globe come together and share research about CubeSats. We meet students and faculty and businesses all associated with the study of satellites, and organizations such as NASA and Tyvak come and represent their study of them as well.

We also always look forward to launches where our projects go off into space and start sending back data through our ground station! Of course, most of those dates are not predictable by the day until close to launch, but we have a general time as to when they will occur based on our deadlines.

What is the coolest project you’ve worked on?

The coolest project I think we’ve worked on is MarCO. The two MarCO CubeSats were the first interplanetary CubeSats that launched with InSight, a stationary lander heading to Mars assembled by NASA JPL. PolySat members helped to integrate the MarCO CubeSats and helped aid in the operations of them. The two CubeSats launched along with NASA’s InSight on the morning of May 5, 2018. It arrived at the red planet and sent telemetry data back to NASA JPL on Nov. 26, the same day InSight landed on Mars.

Do you think space is cool? How cool?

Space is amazing, and what is even more amazing is all we have left to learn about it. There is so much to explore and now with CubeSat, discoveries about Earth and space are so much more accessible.

Check out more about PolySat on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!