(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A nanosatellite built by Israeli teenagers was launched to the International Space Station Tuesday evening. Named for Israel's national bird, Duchifat 2 (Hoopoe) is one of 28 nanosatellites from around the world sent into space. Tuesday's launch of the student-built satellite was a joint initiative of the Israel Space Agency and the Herzliya Science Center.
The nanosatellite is tasked with mapping the outer layers of the earth's atmosphere. Among other things, the mapping will help transfer GPS signals. Duchifat 2 is the only satellite in the International Space Station project built by high schoolers. The other satellites were built by university students and older researchers.
Duchifat 2 is about the size of a milk carton and weighs around four pounds. It was sent into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida via the Atlas 5 launcher. Duchifat 2 will be moved to the Japanese section of the International Space Station for 45 days, after which point astronauts will use a special robotic arm to send it into space.
Duchifat 1, which was also developed with the cooperation of the Herzliya Science Center, was launched in June 2014 and is still active in space, far exceeding its creators' expectations.
For the past two years, more than 80 Israeli high school students from Herzliya, Ofakim, Yeroham, Ofra and Hura have worked to develop the Duchifat 2 satellite, assisted by academic engineers and Israel Aerospace Industries.
Herzliya Mayor Moshe Padlon said, "The Duchifat 1 and Duchifat 2 projects are an incredible achievement by any measure, and they are a testament to the success of our municipality's...investment in education in general and in science education in particular, as well as the high level of the youth in Herzliya."