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It’s called Project Imua, and, like its name, it is definitely moving forward.

In fact, just before midnight on Saturday, a number of University of Hawaii community college students from across the state will be looking towards the heavens.

As NASA launches a rocket into space with a number of experiments on board, some of which are designed by students in our community college system.

The students who are taking part are from four campuses (Honolulu, Kapi’olani, Kaua’i and Windward).

Project Imua Mentor Will Smith (Honolulu CC) and students Nick Herrmann (Kauai CC) and Cale Mechler (Windward CC) are at NASA preparing for the launch.

Launch of Project Imua’s third student designed and built scientific payload from a NASA facility.Project Imua’s primary mission is to engage undergraduate students in project based STEM research with real-world development of small payloads for space flight.

It’s going to be taking part at NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, and the launch window opens at 11:30 tonight Hawaii time.

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.

Project Imua’s third payload is called 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.

So best wishes for the young scientists involved in this latest mission, Again the launch window opens just before midnight. So it’s going to be a long night for a number of our community college students as well as their mentors.

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