Headline for Featured Item #1 University Students Develop Less Expensive Method For Launching Small Payloads into Low Earth Orbit - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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University Students Develop Less Expensive Method For Launching Small Payloads into Low Earth Orbit

May 23, 2012

A company founded by four students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi took first place in the Corpus Christi Business Plan competition and has been awarded $22,000 for in-kind services to develop their product.

"Coastal Bend Aerospace, LLC," a partnership formed by Thurman Walling, Douglas Johnson, Rishi Ahuja, and Cody Lemke, won the competition over four finalists from an initial field of 35 entrants for their plan to launch low-cost payloads into low Earth orbit using high altitude balloons. The group will use their prize to develop and market the satellite which can be employed for military and civilian research at a much lower cost than comparable satellites, and for sending corporate advertisements into orbit.

On May 14, the finalists made their presentations to a group of judges comprised of Ralph Coker, SCORE Counselors to America's Small Business; Gloria Hicks, Ed Hicks Imports; James Poage, Startech venture capital group; Alan Stoner, Venture Capital Partners; and Eloy H. Salazar, Salazar Investments. The in-kind services being supplied to the company in its first year of development include legal consultation, human resources, accounting, public relations and marketing services, and office space at the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center which includes administrative support.

"As our venture succeeds, we will provide a new civilian aerospace company for the Coastal Bend that we anticipate will encourage more businesses like ours to locate to South Texas,” said Walling, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. “We will also contract out to current Coastal Bend businesses for components, generating more revenue for these companies."

In January, the company founders and other members of the Corpus Christi Aeronautical Space Organization launched the satellite equipped with a HD Hero2 camera, a cell phone-based tracking system, and devices to record basic pressure and temperature measurements, in Alice, Texas. It reached an altitude of about 50,000 before landing near Port Lavaca.

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