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Starting A Student Satellite Program

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering by Design II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1133.1 - 10.1133.10



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Paper Authors

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Jeffrey LaCombe

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James Detweiler

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Daniel Loranz

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Eric Wang

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

Starting a Student Satellite Program

Eric Wang, Jeffrey LaCombe, James Detweiler, and Daniel Loranz

University of Nevada, Reno/Truckee Meadows Community College


The Nevada Space Grant Consortium’s student satellite program, NevadaSat, is an ongoing multi-faceted program providing students with high-impact exposure to the aerospace fields. The program includes multidisciplinary student activities in scientific ballooning, rocketry, and Earth-orbiting satellites, known as BalloonSat, CanSat, and CubeSat, respectively. All of these programs are active and critical towards achieving the goal of producing a student satellite to be launched into Earth orbit in the next 3-5 years. Producing and flying a CubeSat is a complex and challenging endeavor. It necessitates support through “training” programs like BalloonSats and CanSats, which build the necessary hands-on skills in students and build interest.

This paper begins by presenting an overview of student satellite programs that exist both nationally and locally. Next the process of starting and supporting a multidisciplinary student satellite program is described and the results to date are presented. Finally, the benefits of the program and initial assessment results are discussed.

1. Background on Student Satellites

The National Space Grant Student Satellite Program was created to address NASA’s future workforce development needs. NASA has a strong need for engineers, scientists, and managers who have experience working in interdisciplinary teams. Similarly, NASA is a leader in the use of remote operations in the form of telescience or telecontrol of robots because of the numerous spaceflight missions conducted each year.

The Nevada Space Grant Consortium’s (NvSGC) student satellite program, NevadaSat, is one of the many programs within the National Student Satellite Program [1]. Students participating in NevadaSat are studying and developing complex systems that will lead to NvSGC’s future goal of launching a student-built satellite into orbit. The approach taken uses a process of graduated steps in program complexity—the formula followed by other successful Space Grant Consortia such as Arizona State University, who use CanSat as a primer for students desiring to become involved in their larger-scale CubeSat program (both CanSat and CubeSat are described below).

According to the National Space Grant Student Satellite Program [1]:

Across America, Space Grant students are learning from the ground up-- literally—by designing, building, flying and operating a broad range of spacecraft. Students come with an interest in Space, but with different levels of

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

LaCombe, J., & Detweiler, J., & Loranz, D., & Wang, E. (2005, June), Starting A Student Satellite Program Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14956

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