The satellite was carrying a swarm of 28 tiny satellites from around the world in order to map the atmosphere, a mapping that will help in transmitting GPS signals. Duchifat 2 is the only high school student satellite to be launched in this project, while the rest of the satellites were built by college students and researchers from around the world.
The rocket was launched at 06:11pm from Florida. About 20 minutes later, the spacecraft disengaged from the launcher. At the space station, the satellites will be transferred to the Japanese section and in a month and a half they will be released into space by a special robot arm operated by the astronauts. NASA's launch site said the Israeli satellite was among the dozens of satellites that were launched into space today.
Duchifat 2 is the second tiny satellite developed by Israeli students weighing only 1.8 kg. Duchifat 1, which was developed by students from the Science Center in Herzliya and launched in June 2014 is still active in space beyond the original estimate. Of the 50 groups in the world that have started working on satellites, only 28 have passed NASA's rigorous tests, including the Israeli group.
More than 80 students from Ofakim, Yeruham, Ofra, Hura and Herzliya had been working on the development of Duchifat 2 in the last two years. The students worked in ten teams and had a clean room, an electronics laboratory and a ground station for communications with satellites at their disposal.
Each team was responsible for a different field such as technical specifications, operating system programming, satellite data decoding, control, system engineering, and more. The students were accompanied by engineers from academia and from the Space Division in the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The satellite successfully passed the tests carried out in IAI's clean room.
The data received from the satellite will be transferred to the ground station at the Herzliya Science Center, to be interpreted by the students. A year later, the satellites are expected to fly, flare, and decompose in the atmosphere, 90 kilometers above earth.
Minister of Science Ophir Akunis said before the launch: "Duchifat 2 is not only an educational project that brings youth closer to space, paving the way to the future, but also an international research project. This is Israeli pride in Israel's future generation and an opportunity to increase public awareness in the field of space."
(Translated and edited by N. Elias)