On November 11, 2023, U of T Engineering students gathered in the basement of the Sandford Fleming Building — known to many as The Pit — to witness the deployment of HERON Mk. II into space.
The 3U CubeSat satellite, built and operated by the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT), Space Systems division, was launched into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of SpaceX’s Transporter-9 rideshare mission that lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc, Calif.
This feat was entirely student funded with support from U of T Engineering through student levies and UTAT-led fundraising efforts.
“The experience of the launch was very surreal,” says Benjamin Nero (MechE 2T2 + PEY, UTIAS MASc candidate), HERON’s current mission manger.
“We worked on this project for so long with such a narrow focus that actually seeing it deployed was very rewarding.”
“There are any number of things that could go wrong that might prevent a satellite from deploying,” adds Zachary Teper(ECE MASc candidate), who is part of the technical development team working on HERON’s ground station.
“So, watching each of the call outs coming out of the SpaceX mission control, seeing the rocket go up and meet every one of its mission objectives, and then finally, seeing our satellite get ejected out of the dispenser in the correct trajectory, was a big relief because we knew that it was finally in space and on the right path.”