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Students Designing And Building Satellites: Penn State’s Lionsat And The University Nanosat 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

Astronautics and Space Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1166.1 - 10.1166.11



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Paper Authors

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Robert Melton

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Michael Micci

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Deborah Levin

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Charles Croskey

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David Spencer

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Sven Bilen

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

Students Designing and Building Satellites: Penn State’s LionSat and the University Nanosat Program

Sven G. Bilén, Charles L. Croskey, Robert Melton, David Spencer, Deborah Levin, and Michael M. Micci

College of Engineering The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802

1. Introduction

The Local Ionospheric Measurements Satellite (LionSat) mission provides a wealth of learning experiences for the students who are involved in designing, building, and flying Penn State’s first student-built satellite [Mistoco et al., 2003]. A key part of LionSat is the educational programming available to students of diverse backgrounds and academic interests. Our educational goal is to prepare students at the undergraduate and graduate levels for productive careers in technical and nontechnical fields relating to space systems and science. The LionSat mission introduces relevant hands-on opportunities to students through design problems, science questions, case studies, research investigations, leadership experiences, organizational issues, etc. LionSat introduces meaningful and realistic project examples into the classroom and laboratory, which enhance student learning.

The LionSat mission was selected as a participant in the University Nanosat-3 (NS-3) program, which is a joint program between the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA GSFC), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), and the Air Force Research Labs Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/VS). The objectives of the NS-3 program are to educate and train the future workforce through a national student satellite design and fabrication competition and to enable small satellite R&D, payload development, integration, and flight test. Also important to the program is the ability to fly new technologies to validate their operation in a space environment. There are 13 universities participating in NS-3. All universities were provided grants of approx. $100k over two years as seed money for their satellite development.

LionSat is a multi-disciplinary space systems project involving several departments of The Pennsylvania State University, including the electrical, aerospace, and mechanical engineering departments. The project also includes students from the College of Science and the College of Education. The Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory (CSSL), located on campus, is serving as the coordination center for the project. The research conducted by the

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

Melton, R., & Micci, M., & Levin, D., & Croskey, C., & Spencer, D., & Bilen, S. (2005, June), Students Designing And Building Satellites: Penn State’s Lionsat And The University Nanosat Program Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14776

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