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Israeli High School Students Build Duchifat-2 Cubesat

Israeli high school students hold up the Duchifat-2 Cubesat they built. Photograph courtesy of the Israel Space Agency/Roi Greenberg.

Over 80 Israeli high school students from schools in Herzliya, Ofakim, Yeruham, the West Bank settlement of Ofra, and the Bedouin town of Hura, have built a Cubesat called Duchifat-2 as part of the European Union’s QB50 Thermosphere research programme.

Duchifat-2 is one of 28 Cubesats from 23 countries built for the EU’s QB50 programme, but is the only one that has been built by high school students. The Cubesats were launched on a U.S. Atlas-5 rocket on April 18, 2017, from Cape Canaveral in Florida, United States. The Cubesats will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) from where they shall be placed into orbit in six weeks time.

Duchifat-2 and its companion Cubesats will measure the plasma density of the Thermosphere between 85km and 300km altitude above the Earth’s surface. Israeli students will study the data from the Cubesats at the Herzliya Science Centre, where signals from the orbiting satellites will be received.

Israeli Minister for Science, Technology, and Space, Ofir Akunis, said in a government statement that, “Duchifat-2 is not only an educational venture that brings space closer to youth and lays the way for tomorrow’s generation, it is also an international research project. This is Israeli pride for the future generation, and an opportunity to increase public awareness about space.”

Duchifat-2 took two years to build and was funded by the Israel Space Agency, with the project supervised by the Herzliya Science Centre. The high school students were helped in their efforts by engineers from Israeli company Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and the Israel Space Agency.

Duchifat-1 was launched in 2014 and was also built by Israeli high school students. That satellite is still in orbit and assists in locating lost people in areas without mobile telephone coverage.

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