Thomas Jefferson High School students launch satellite on SpaceX rocket

Students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology spent seven years creating a satellite from scratch, and as of Saturday afternoon it's headed to space!

The TJ REVERB is currently aboard SpaceX's CRS-26, which launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday afternoon. Once it reaches its destination, it will then be handed over to astronauts on the International Space Station who plan to deploy it in January.

Its mission is to further research the use of Iridium as a primary radio in CubeSats. 

FOX 5 spoke to some of the students who built, designed and coded the TJ REVERB, which stands for Research Education Vehicle for Evaluating Radio Broadcasts. 

"I kind of thought of the work as like an escape from school work but also it's like applying something you learn in school to something that actually matters," said Alan Hsu, a senior in the TJ Space Program. 

"This project was really hard," added Zichang Wang, a junior. "We ran into many issues but we ultimately overcame them. With enough time and enough research with enough dedication, as high schoolers, you can do something really cool like building a cube satellite."

The project started in 2016 with a CSLI grant from NASA. It was designed without a kit and with no help from any larger institutions. 

Kristen Kucko, the team's robotics lab director, said she was "very proud" of the students she worked with. 

"They actually built the entire satellite," Kucko said. "They picked parts from different vendors and they figured out how to integrate all of those parts together… What's great and inspirational about this is high school kids are capable of this stuff if we just let them experiment and figure things out."

In the future, the TJ Space Program hopes to launch the LunaSat GLEE to the moon with NASA's Artemis Mission and the TJ BUS to conduct research projects.

Watch the launch below: