written by our collaborators at the Maker Lab

by Ethan Jones ’24

What is Bellarmine Aerospace?

The Bellarmine Aerospace team is an incubator program of the Maker Lab that has a specific focus on space exploration, aerospace engineering, and astronomical science. It was founded in late 2021, but has exponentially grown since its inception, currently including about 20 Bells of all grades. It is meant to provide an open learning environment where students can learn the skills they need to participate in humanity’s growing focus on space travel, especially on the expansion to the Moon and Mars. Also, it is a space where students can gain experience with tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters and use them to construct a wide variety of space related projects. The team gives students an opportunity to work towards their dreams of space and turn them into concrete, achievable ideas.


What are the Bellarmine Aerospace Team’s Goals?

Their team’s open nature allows for students to share space-related project ideas at any time and form groups to begin working on turning those ideas into real constructions. They have many plans to do everything from building a vacuum chamber to launching our own small-scale rockets. However, at the current moment, the aerospace team is primarily focused on two main projects.

First, the Cube Satellite Initiative is focused on building a home-grown CubeSat (a very small satellite, 10 cm3) out of 3D printed materials and off-the-shelf electrical components, such as Arduino microcontrollers. This first CubeSat will be lofted up to a planned altitude of 60,000ft, a height above the stratosphere, with a helium-filled weather balloon. At this altitude, the CubeSat will take measurements of the local environment before falling back to Earth and landing with a parachute. This is just the first step on the timeline of the CubeSat Initiative, which is taking part into a suborbital rocket launch in 2023 that will take a small experiment payload into space, which will be followed up with the creation of a true space-level CubeSat which will orbit around the earth in a long-term scientific mission.

Second, the Human Habitation Team is currently working on a concept for a future Moon/Mars base that can support the lives and activities of astronauts while being able to fit inside of a SpaceX Starship rocket. Their innovative modular design is being tested in small scale but will be built as life-size in the future. The team plans on creating a mockup habitat in the Bellarmine Quad to showcase their vision of the future of human space exploration while inviting other school organizations to take part in the growing community that it creates.

Ethan Jones ’24 – Team Founder

Q: Why did you join this group?

A: I decided to help start the Bellarmine Aerospace team because I have always been interested in space exploration and the engineering that goes behind it, and I felt it would be a great opportunity to use the Maker Lab tools to learn aerospace engineering skills and apply them to real scientific missions.

Q: What do you do hope to take away from this experience?

A: I hope to take away engineering, collaboration, and scientific skills in addition to making new friends and achieving something the school can be proud of through our planned missions.

Q: What are your responsibilities on this team and why do they matter?

A: Since I am one of the founders of the program and also a project lead on our high-altitude weather balloon mission, I have to take a leadership role in the team and delegate tasks while also playing an active role in the design and build progress. Together with the rest of the group, I must be productive and diligent to ensure that our projects can be finished.

 

Devansh Shah ’25Project Lead

Q: Why did you join this group?

A: I joined this group because I was interested in sending something in the sky, but I didn’t know where to start or what to do. The group gave me a set path to make/follow, which peaked my interesting in aerospace/engineering/space even more.

Q: What do you do hope to take away from this experience?

A: I hope to learn about how to collaborate with people and gain engineering skills that I can use when I leave Bellarmine. there is a very different experience that you gain when you work with a mentor with experience and have to use your own creativity to come up with solutions.

What do you do at Aerospace team meetings?

At the BARG, we meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00pm to 4:30pm in the Maker Lab in an open workshop environment to collaborate on our projects and deliberate future plans. We are supported by the Maker Lab leadership team, the Maker Lab teacher leaders [Mr. Dutton, Mr. Yav, Ms. Bathker, and Mr. Goldstein), as well as our mentor, Mr. Stefanescu, who used to work at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. At the Maker Lab, we can use a wide range of tools and technologies to build our space projects, with a combination of computer aided design (CAD) programs and 3D printers allowing us to rapidly prototype ideas and quickly create final assemblies.

What’s next?

Stay tuned to WGOTW and instagram.com/bcpmakerlab for further updates on the CubeSat Initiative and Human Habitation Team, as they have been making steady progress on their projects and are beginning to have presentable constructions. The CubeSat Initiative plans to launch its first Satellite in early 2023, and will inform Bellarmine before it does so.