Here’s how UCF, NASA are teaming up to explore space

by Rachel Williams, Orlando Business Journal

The University of Central Florida is launching its research efforts into zero gravity.

With the help of a $415,000 NASA grant awarded to UCF on Sept. 8, a team of physicists and students will design, build and operate a satellite from start to finish. The satellite will be used as part of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration program, which aims to learn more about the formation of planets. Arizona State University is the only other school to receive the grant.

This is the fourth space-exploration project for this UCF team. Its three others — which are still in the works — are for commercial suborbital rockets. The new satellite experiment is expected to launch in first-quarter 2017.

Strong research efforts at local universities can economically boost the region. That’s because research dollars are funneled into schools, attract top professors and researchers, and can lead to new discoveries. More businesses then enter the region to turn these discoveries into products and take them to the market.

Another benefit to the business community is the experience future potential employees gain from research and experiments, such as this satellite. Josh Colwell, UCF physics professor, said half the team of about a dozen people is engineering students, who will gain hands-on experience that they can later take to the workforce.

For more on local university research efforts, see here.

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