Jefferson Nanosat launching jokes into orbit


Lucas Ribero

Senior project manager Nikhil Kalidasu and sophomore Khoi Dinh are working on code for REVERB. They are making finishing touches to the code, which includes the incorporation of the jokes feature. Once they’ve successfully launched the satellite, they want to pass on their knowledge. “After we are done with launching REVERB, we will be hosting workshops and teaching new underclassmen members to continue on the transition of a great team. There will be opportunities in the future to get involved, so stay on the lookout,” sophomore Amanda Wang said.

Ayesha Khan, Staff Writer

The Nanosat team at Jefferson is in the end phases of launching their satellite “TJ REVERB” into orbit. As part of their outreach for the program, students have the opportunity to submit a joke to be launched into low Earth orbit with the satellite in October of 2022. 

REVERB is a student-led nanosatellite project that plans on launching a 2U CubeSat this October. Since it is one of the only high school CubeSat teams in the nation, they feature a local, national, and international outreach program. 

“Our project has come very far from the beginning of the year. We are very close to launching our satellite. Currently our handoff date to NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] with the fully assembled satellite is in July, and our launch date is set for October,” senior project manager Nikhil Kalidasu said. 

For the team, it has been a long process. Although REVERB has been an ongoing project for over five years, the seniors who have been with the program since the beginning graduated last year. In their absence, the team had to build and program many things from scratch. They added many new features to the satellite, including a joke feature. This feature will allow people to interact with the jokes while the satellite is launched. 

“The jokes were an idea that we came up with after first designing the satellite’s jokes functions. It originally was conceived as something fun that we added to the satellite and since we are putting something in space, we may as well do something cool with it,” Kalidasu said. 

The jokes function is a small subset of their outreach mission. They have game playing AI on the satellite that people will be able to play from their website with the actual satellite itself, for example chess, tic tac toe, and ultimate tic tac toe. They added these to involve as much of the Jefferson community as possible. 

“It occurred to us that part of our mission is to include the community. We thought that these jokes were a really good area where we could involve the Jefferson community to be engaged with the project, even though they aren’t officially building the satellite,” senior Eddie Li said. “We were planning to crowdsource these jokes, and the jokes will go up into space and be available to everyone.”

Students are able to submit jokes that can be accessed by anyone interested while REVERB is in orbit.

“If more people submit jokes, we can put more into space, and that would be really cool. The form is on Facebook, so if anyone wants to submit jokes, you can. It is a nice touch to have some sort of community engagement; It will go up into space, and that’s about as cool as it gets,” Kalidasu said. 

There are many different functions on the satellite, and the team has worked hard to build it to the best of their ability. Now, they are adding their finishing touches, and look forward to REVERB being launched.

“The entire team just wants to get it to work. None of us were here when this project started, so to be able to actually get it into space is the main goal. That’s the number one thing that we have been putting in countless hours for,” Kalidasu said. 

The Nanosat team has put both time and effort into this project. They meet every Tuesday and Thursday after school until 6:30 p.m., during 8th period blocks every Wednesday and Friday, and every day during lunch. The seniors left this project behind since they graduated, and the rest of the students who are a part of the team had to take on this project, without knowing much about it. 

“The people before us did a lot of work, however, they didn’t really transfer the knowledge over. All of us walked in here and had to learn these things on the fly: At the beginning of the year we had no idea how to build a satellite. We figured out what had already been done, then figured out what still needed to be done, and just went ahead and did it,” sophomore Amanda Wang said. 

The team has put in the work to learn all about how to build, as well as how to program a satellite. They’re all dedicated and committed to make it happen, and the project is almost coming to an end.  

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s a very high commitment thing. We’re proud of what we have done, and how we found ways to incorporate the Jefferson community into this project by coming up with the idea for jokes,” Wang said. “The dedication to launch this satellite is really inspiring. Once you start working, someone else isn’t forcing you to work. It’s like you have your own personal goal of ‘I wanna get this thing finished because I want to launch the satellite.’”