Satellite named by Government Hill students launches into space
The first of 600 satellites on a mission to make the internet accessible everywhere successfully launched into orbit Wednesday.
Government Hill Elementary School held a viewing party to celebrate.
The Anchorage school is one of six schools chosen from across the globe to be part of OneWeb's Empowering Humanity Campaign, which the company says aims to provide internet to billions of people who live in places without access to broadband, including rural Alaska.
OneWeb's primary objective is to create a constellation of over 600 satellites to provide global internet access by 2021.
OneWeb wanted to find six schools in the most remote places in the world. The other five are in in Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Honduras, Ecuador and Rwanda. They all receive free internet.
Government Hill Elementary’s involvement in the program started in the fall when former State Sen. Lesil McGuire suggested the school put in their name for the opportunity to participate.
While the other five schools may be more geographically remote and have less connectivity, it’s the school’s diversity that helped earn it the honor.
Last week, students discussed aerospace, engineering and technology with executives and engineers from OneWeb.
A week later, they watched live as the satellite they helped name and decorate launch into orbit.
“When it first launched off it looked like a camp fire, like if you just put some oil on it, like it was huge and it was going really fast,” fifth grader Carlos Menendez said.
Government Hill’s principal Mandy Clark says her students on the cutting edge of bigger things to come.
“Many students have a narrow vision of what they think space is and who is involved with space,” Clark said. “This partnership has really opened up students’ thinking and their view of what they can be and what space and engineering and STEM activities can offer for us.”
The school will now track the satellite as it travels through space.
The students named their satellite "Nanuq, Oso Polar" meaning polar bear. "Bear” is spelt in Yup’ik to represent Alaska and in Spanish to represent the school’s immersion program.
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