Venture Southland has partnered with the University of Canterbury to provide a unique and rare opportunity for engineering students to work in the field of aerospace communications.

University of Canterbury students (from left) Sam Pell, Ryan Hall, Hamish Robertson and Kerry Clapham with Robin McNeill at the Awarua satellite ground station.

University of Canterbury students (from left) Sam Pell, Ryan Hall, Hamish Robertson and Kerry Clapham with Robin McNeill at the Awarua satellite ground station.

Ryan Hall, Sam Pell and Hamish Robertson have spent this week working at Venture Southland’s Awarua satellite ground station.

Their project is to design and build a communication link between a ground station and a research (sounding) rocket. The link will allow Chris Hann, senior lecturer at the university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to analyse flight data from a rocket launch in real time.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to grow our understanding of the aerospace industry,’’ Ryan said.

“Aerospace communications is an area of engineering that we aren’t exposed to at UC. Southland provides a unique experience for students wishing to pursue study and develop business opportunities in this area and we are really excited to see where our careers might lead us.’’

Venture Southland has ground station services at Awarua, 11km south of Invercargill, and Lochiel, near Winton. Mostly they are used for tracking Earth observation satellites that orbit the earth about 12 times each day, scanning the Earth to monitor the environment, land use, oil pollution and ship movements and assisting with disaster recovery planning.

The stations are managed by Venture Southland’s “dishmaster” Robin McNeill and his assistant, Kerry Clapham, a Masters student from the University of Canterbury. Robin is co-supervising the students’ project.

He said the project was an opportunity for Venture Southland to develop and extend its world-class satellite tracking facilities to include small-satellite and research rocket launches with scientific payloads.