A 110-pound satellite build by students at the University of Texas at Austin is at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., for testing prior to launch. Called the Formation Autonomy Spacecraft with Thrust, Relnav, Attitude, and Crosslink (FASTRAC), the satellite will split into two separate units following lift off for formation flying in low Earth orbit, according to an Air Force press release. The student team at Austin built the satellite after winning the Nanosat-3 competition, which tasks universities with designing and developing satellites and provides their school’s program with $55,000. “The University Nanosatellite Program is raising the next generation of aerospace industry workers,” Scott Franke, UNP manager said. It is the only federal government-sponsored program that is open to university participation, Franke added.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.