Students at the NWT’s Aurora Research Institute have been chosen to create and launch one of 15 miniature satellites.

The Canadian Space Agency will help a handful of colleges and universities design and construct CubeSats – tiny satellites with 10-centimetre sides. The agency says these satellites are cheap, don’t take much energy to launch into orbit, and are better for the environment on re-entry.

The Aurora Research Institute, which is a division of Aurora College, will receive $250,000 over four years for its students to develop hardware, software, and content for what the college termed the satellite’s “outreach component.”

Advertisement. Story continues below

Aurora’s students will build their satellite in partnership with Yukon College and the University of Alberta, sharing designs then linking their three satellites to form a space weather monitoring project.

“During development, the missions are designed to engage youth in the design, hardware engineering, and programming of an outreach payload intended to accomplish specific mission goals,” read a statement released by Aurora College this week.

“Once the satellites are operational, youth will be involved with the collection and sharing of stories, art and games with participants from around the world.”

The Aurora Research Institute’s satellite will carry northern art, Indigenous-language stories to be broadcast back to Earth, and a northern-themed game to be played by amateur radio operators.

Education minister Caroline Cochrane, quoted in the statement, said: “The scope of this opportunity is significant for students of all interests and with unique skills, and I anticipate we will see an exceptional and powerful outcome reflective of the diversity and rich culture of the north.”

The news comes as some in Canada’s northern space industry say federal government delays are costing them millions of dollars in investment.

A Norwegian company told the CBC it had been waiting two years for a satellite ground station in Inuvik to receive its federal operating licence.

“We’re quite frustrated with the pace of the Canadian bureaucracy,” KSAT president Rolf Skatteboe told the corporation.