A team of University of Hawaiʻi community college students gathered at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in August 2016 to launch scientific experiments they had designed and built into space. A NASA videographer documented their journey.
Project Imua is a joint faculty-student enterprise of four UH community college campuses (Honolulu, Kapiʻolani, Kauaʻi and Windward Community College). Its primary mission is to engage undergraduate students in project-based research with real-world STEM applications by developing small payloads for space flight.
Project Imua’s first payload was launched on a NASA sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in the summer of 2015. Its second payload named PrIME (Project Imua Multiple Experiment), consisted of a neutron-gamma ray detector and an innovatively powered rocket that was deployed at a height of 96 miles. Nicknamed ScubeR (for Super Simple Sublimation Rocket) for its motor’s simplicity in the use of a mothball-like naphthalene propellant that transformed from solid to vapor. Although the sounding rocket’s sub-orbital flight on August 17, 2016 was successful, NASA search planes were unable to find and recover the payload containing the UH experiments. The payload was declared lost at sea in the Atlantic.
The Project Imua team is currently designing their third payload—PrIMEAT (pronounced primate) for Project Imua Multiple Experiment Attempt Two. This payload consists of many of the subsystems from the lost 2016 flight. On board are improved versions of ScubeR, which includes a heating coil for added thrust, an infrared laser rangefinder, a lookback camera for photographing the payload from space, video and still cameras for monitoring ScubeR and several motion tracking devices. PrIMEAT is scheduled for launch from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in August 2017.
—By Kelli Trifonovitch