Shopping for space products is easy with a single trip to Cache County.
With Utah State University's Center for Space Engineering, Globesat, ICOMP and a dozen other high-tech players, Logan and localities north can provide everything from the expertise to get a satellite into space to advice on how to stay sane during a lengthy assignment on a space station."Cache Valley is a one-stop shopping center for space activity," said L. Rex Megill, founder of Globesat and ICOMP, two satellite and technology firms based in Logan.
Utah State is affectionately called "Utah Space University" because of all its contracts and research into aerospace and astronautics. The Center for Space Engineering pulled in $20 million in federal contracts last year, mostly for research into infrared radiation, said Frank Redd, center director.
"Our biggest effort is in the area of instrumentation for sensing the earth's atmosphere and low earth atmosphere," Redd said. "We're trying to figure out what causes auroras."
While much of the research into the infrared spectrum and atmosphere is pure science, the results of the studies have practical applications.
"Department of Defense space systems operate in that environment and that (infrared radiation) can affect the space craft" which can become charged with electrical buildup that in turn can interfere with operations.
"In the area of research, we're doing primarily infrared research. There is no other university in the country that's doing it," Redd said.
Utah State students are representing the United States in a project with the Soviet Union and France that will explore the planet Mars using a balloon. Redd said the two students are working on the payload for the exploratory project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as part of their studies.