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Falconsat Ground Station Crew Training For Nonengineering Students

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching in Engineering/Technology II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.606.1 - 9.606.11



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Paper Authors

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Elsa Bruno

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David Swanson

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David Barnhart

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David Richie

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Jerry Sellers

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Kenneth Siegenthaler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3102

Spacemanship at the United States Air Force Academy: Developing a Satellite Ground Station Crew Training Program for Non-Technical Students

David Swanson, Kenneth E. Siegenthaler, David J. Barnhart, Jerry J. Sellers, David J. Richie, and Elsa Bruno

Department of Astronautics United States Air Force Academy

Abstract To make our educational program realistic and relevant to a cadet’s future profession, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) has created a center in which we manufacture very modest spacecraft. Each satellite has a real-world mission and is designed, built and operated by our cadets. The program greatly enhances our student engineers’ understanding of satellite design and operation—something most small countries are unable to offer their technical personnel. Like our colleagues in civilian universities, we wanted to offer more of our cadets hands-on experience, to broaden the program to expose more cadets to satellite operations. So we now invite non-technical, non-scientifically inclined cadets to participate in satellite operations by maintaining our on-orbit scientific payloads. This paper records how USAFA cadets created a training program to meet that objective and initiated the inaugural running of the program.

I. Introduction

The mission of the Astronautics Department is to produce the world’s finest Air Force officers who live our core values of integrity, service, and excellence and understand space. In keeping with this mission, the Department has created the Space Systems Research Center (SSRC) and the FalconSAT program1. Our philosophy of “Learning Space by Doing Space” is carried out through the SSRC. This center provides a facility in which our astronautics majors can design, assemble, test, and operate small, scientifically relevant satellites. FalconGold, FalconSAT-1, and FalconSAT-2 were the first spacecraft in a series of projects created by cadets. In recent years, the program has expanded to include select management, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering majors—creating a truly interdisciplinary capstone course. The next step is to bridge the gap between education and training in the space arena.

This paper describes how our cadets created a training program that any cadet could enroll in and pass regardless of major. In fact, the objective was to target students whose major was neither technical nor scientific in nature. Because cadets have limited time for extra curricular activities the program was created to be efficient—placing instructor/cadet contact time at a premium and

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering"

Bruno, E., & Swanson, D., & Barnhart, D., & Richie, D., & Sellers, J., & Siegenthaler, K. (2004, June), Falconsat Ground Station Crew Training For Nonengineering Students Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13030

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