By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – Students at Metropolitan State University in Denver are at the forefront of new space technology, after the university teamed up with Denver-based satellite company York Space Systems.

(credit: CBS)

The partnership allowed the company to tap the intelligence of up-and-coming engineers, while giving the students the opportunity to help develop the future of space technology.

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(credit: York Space Systems)

Recently, students at MSU were tasked with finding a new way to power satellites in space. Currently, many space batteries are costly, and could take almost one year to get ahold of. York, and the students, hoped to develop new batteries that would drastically cut the cost, and production time, of batteries for many satellites.

“Batteries on satellites right now cost tons of money,” said Peter Hufford, a student at MSU and intern for York.

(credit: York Space Systems)

Hufford said he joined the program due to his interest in coding, and space exploration technologies.

“I’ve always been fascinated by space,” Hufford said.

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Hufford, and other students, helped develop battery prototypes, that are currently being tested at MSU. The prototypes are being tested for their ability to operate under unique stress factors, including weather.

“You can’t replace those batteries in space. So, they have to last the life of the satellite,” Hufford said.

(credit: CBS)

York founder, and CEO, Dirk Wallinger told CBS4 many popular batteries used today are dated technology, that sometimes only last up to five years. By teaming up with the university, Wallinger hoped to create the future of satellite technology.

“It was a strong desire for us to work with a local university, to help produce the best students. Hopefully, to produce the type of students we would want to hire,” Wallinger said. “(A satellite) must do everything. Think on its own, operate on its own. And, without a power system, it cannot do that.”

(credit: CBS)

The first group of students to tackle the challenge made significant progress. Wallinger said he hoped, in the second semester of the class, the students would propel their project to a point in which it could be sent to space and tested.

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“The work they have done, has really advanced that technology, to the point where we might be able to bring it to someone like the government labs, and say, ‘Hey, this technology has shown a lot of progress,’” Wallinger said. “The students have done a lot of great work. I think it is time to fly it.”

Dillon Thomas