Alexandria, VA – Alexandria’s Hudson Merrick is going to take a selfie in space. At least that is part of what he and 19 other carefully selected students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s are attempting in the latest space mission, the EagleCam CubeSat camera system. The first of its kind, this student-led project aims to snap a third-person “selfie” of a lunar lander touching down on the moon.
“Currently an undergrad majoring in Aviation Business Administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Alexandria native Hudson Merrick is playing a key role in the historic space mission to send the first-ever student project to the moon, and take a ‘selfie’ of the space craft as it touches down on the lunar surface,” shares Mike Cavaliere, news manager at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
On the Financial Management team for EagleCam, Hudson’s responsibilities include budget management, acquiring funding, ordering equipment, and social media outreach.
Snapping a photo on the moon
The aim of the EagleCam mission is to acquire a photograph as well as gather data. The students will design a camera, which will hitch a ride on the NovaC Lunar Lander, detaching right before the lander touches down. The camera will then snap a third-person-perspective photo of the lander touching down and transmit that photo via wifi (the first documented case of wifi transmission on the moon) to the lander to be transmitted back to earth.
Beyond just the selfie and the first wifi transmission, the ultimate goals of the mission reach beyond to analysis and outreach—collecting data and transmitting that information to museums and schools for use; a reconstruction of the 360 degree view where the NovaC will land; a measurement of the temperature of the lunar surface; an analysis of how the rocket spreads lunar dust upon landing; and a removal of lunar dust samples for research.
The launch of the NovaC Lunar Lander and EagleCam is scheduled for October of 2021, but Embry-Riddle’s Dr. Henderson assures, “This project will last much longer than October 2021… We’re collecting enough data for Ph.D. students to analyze for the next decade.”
How Alexandria Influenced Hudson’s Career Path
Hudson dabbles in photography and says what excites him about this project is the opportunity to “take photos that other people can’t,” but before attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Hudson grew up in Alexandria. “It’s a great place to grow up, getting to explore Old Town, the waterfront, and King Street.” He reminisces on growing up in the town, walking around with his dad, going to the airport, and simply experiencing the community in Alexandria. “Everyone’s very friendly,” states Hudson.
Growing up in a town saturated with aeronautical influences, it is no surprise Hudson was drawn to aviation. Growing up, fascinated by all forms of transportation, Hudson wanted to become a commercial pilot. “One thing you can’t not notice is the planes flying into Reagan,” Hudson proclaims of Alexandria. This fascination prompted him to acquire his private pilot’s license while learning from flight instructors at the Manassas Regional Airport.
Considered among the best in aviation universities, it is easy to see how Embry-Riddle attracted Hudson. The university allows him to pursue his studies while also gathering flight training and certifications. Now pursuing a degree in Aviation Business Administration, Hudson is passionate about “the ins and outs of how the aviation industry works” and “corporate aviation and chartering.”
Although an exciting prospect for posterity, the EagleCam project cannot be fulfilled without support. The team at Embry-Riddle are functioning under 100% philanthropic efforts. They seek grants and donors, and desire to go well beyond the minimum funding requirement for the mission. “We were challenged by Intuitive Machines, and as the world leader in aviation, we want to extend that challenge to students to reach back to their old high schools,” says Dr. Henderson. To further their efforts, please donate to their cause at https://daytonabeach.erau.edu/eaglecam.
“It’s been incredible to see how this team has come together,” exclaims Hudson. “I never thought I’d be a part of something as important as this.” He leaves words of wisdom for the kids of Alexandria today with dreams as big as his, “Never think you can’t do something incredible like this.”
When asked if he ever anticipates returning to his hometown, Hudson says, “The Alexandria-DC area is on my list of places I want to live. There is a large amount of corporate aviation traffic.” Currently in pursuit of an MBA in aviation management, Hudson has a while before he will return to Alexandria, but he says, “studying for my MBA excites me.”
For now, Hudson will continue making Alexandria proud as a successful student at Embry-Riddle and will no doubt continue making history.