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Student Launch Project Milestones
July 15, 1996 
NASA sends out research project announcement. 
March 17, 1997 
NJIT’s student team receives word of its winning proposal. 
May 28, 1997 
Project Initiation meeting held at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. 
Oct. 20, 1997 
Preliminary Design Review meeting held at NJIT videotaped and sent to NASA. 
March 16, 1998 
Final Design Review meeting held at NJIT. 
July 16, 1998 
Mission Readiness Review meeting held at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. 
Aug. 11, 1998 
First available flight date. 
Aug. 13, 1998 
Flight date reset for Aug. 18 due to unfavorable weather conditions.
Aug. 18, 1998 
Flight reset for end of week due to ongoing unfavorable weather conditions.
Aug. 21, 1998 
Take off! Launch successful.

Photo Gallery
Follow the project from conception to sign-off. Below are photos and information chronicling the pre-launch process. Get ready for takeoff with NJIT's honors students...  
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After two long years of hard work and teamwork, a group of students in NJIT's Albert Dorman Honors College gathered at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Wallops Island, Va., where they launched their creation -- an air-sampling device dubbed MAACS-II. 

The takeoff, originally scheduled to occur between Aug. 10 and Aug. 14, had been postponed until Aug. 21. The students are now back on campus analyzing the data. Upon launch, the device soared some 17 miles above the earth, triggered by a series of electronic sensors to take samples of air at various altitudes.  

"We hope to collect air samples to measure concentrations of various pollutants in the air at different altitudes," said Professor Bruce Bukiet, associate professor of mathematical sciences and principal investigator for the project. 

They were sophomores when they started. And this group of chemical, mechanical, electronic and computer engineering majors, who now are seniors, have learned an enormous amount by managing the $34,220 NASA grant to design and build their device from scratch. 

"We have become somewhat of a family--each doing our own part while looking to each other for support," said Bridget Ann Hogan, student project leader. We have celebrated together in our successes and bounced back from the bad times...It has been an honor to work with this group and I am sure we will all feel a burst of pride and fulfillment as we watch our baby, MAACS-2, take off this week! 

"As student leader of this project I cannot convey how very rewarding it has been for me and all others involved. The group has learned so much about group dynamics, dealing with faculty and even companies in industry. Most of all it has been so exciting for us to have the opportunity to visit places like NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. and Wallops Space Flight Center in Virginia. We have even gotten the chance to do testing on NASA facilities and speak with experts there about our project." 

The project presented numerous challenges. First, the device had to contain enough sensitive equipment to do the job. It had to be strong enough to withstand a wide range of temperature and pressure, since it would be floating into the upper reaches of the atmosphere before plummeting back toward earth. And because it would ultimately be launched aboard a helium balloon, it had to weigh no more than 100 pounds. 

The students opted to house their device in an aluminum gondola, which they first tested by dropping off the roof of the NJIT parking garage. 

The students tested their device at both the NJIT campus and at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, where NASA officials conducted intense evaluations. 

Throughout this process, the NJIT team earned the respect of NASA scientists. They presented a "cohesive, well-designed and practiced presentation," said Steve Smith, chairman of NASA's mission readiness review board. "It was obvious that an extensive amount of excellent work had been accomplished." 

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NJIT Student Launch Project Home Page | Albert Dorman Honors College | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Wallops Flight Facility | NASA | NJIT News Release