- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) - A satellite from Morehead State University will be on the most powerful rocket ever built when it blasts off on a planned mission in 2018 to orbit the moon, according to NASA.

The federal government agency made the announcement Thursday. NASA said the rocket, called the Space Launch System, will carry 13 small satellites, called CubeSats, along with an unnamed Orion crew capsule, The Independent reported (https://bit.ly/20CBtmt).

Benjamin Malphrus, Morehead’s space science department chair and director of the Space Science Center at MSU, said the university’s satellite, dubbed Ice Cube, will orbit the moon and its instruments will search for and map water ice on the moon’s surface.

“It’s historic, the maiden voyage of the largest rocket ever built, and our satellite is on it,” Malphrus said.

Malphrus said the mission is important to the future of manned space travel. Previous moon missions have established the presence of water ice, mainly in deep craters in the polar regions that are permanently covered in darkness.

The Orion launch will mark the university’s first mission beyond Earth’s orbit. Work is just beginning at MSU on building the satellite.

“We are well along the way in design and we have two years to build and test it,”?Malphrus said.

MSU?also will provide tracking and communications for the satellite using its 21-meter radio telescope.

Malphrus said NASA?has selected the telescope, which is slated for upgrades that will prepare it for even more remote missions, as the first non-NASA?instrument for inclusion in the Deep Space Network.


Information from: The Independent, https://www.dailyindependent.com

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