Virginia student wins first Design/Build/Launch competition sponsored by AIAA/Blue Origin

Here’s an announcement from AIAA and Blue Origin :

Virginia High School Student Wins First Design/Build/Launch Competition
Sponsored by Blue Origin and AIAA

July 8, 2020 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Blue Origin are pleased to announce the winner of their Design/Build/Launch (DBL) competition.

Eleanor Sigrest.

Eleanor Sigrest, a rising senior enrolled in a dual program at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Virginia, and the Governor’s School at Innovation Park in Manassas, Virginia, won the competition with her experiment, Improving Fluid Management Through A Novel Microgravity Slosh Mitigation Technique, which will be the first AIAA-sponsored payload to go into flight.

“Ever since I can remember,” she said, “I’ve looked at the stars and known I want to go to space. I want to be the first person on Mars. Through research, I feel I better my personal knowledge and contribute to a community, all sharing the same goal of exploring beyond our Earth and developing the technologies necessary to get to Mars – technologies that will also benefit all humankind.”

In her quest to be the first person on Mars, Eleanor has been conducting independent research on rockets since middle school. She has won a host of science competitions, beginning with the grand prize, regional level, in her first science fair when she was in fourth grade, and including the Broadcom MASTERS Samueli Foundation prize at the national level with her experiment, “Rockets and Nozzles and Thrust, OH MY!

“Design/Build/Launch is the perfect next step to complement my research of a novel microgravity slosh technique that could simplify spacecraft systems, increase payload capacity and save the space industry billions of dollars,” she said. “This opportunity provides me the chance to further this research and prepare for my own launch to Mars.”

AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher said,

“If aerospace is to continue pushing boundaries to create a better world for us all, we need students like Eleanor Sigrest to be inspired to take up the challenge. Congratulations, Eleanor, on being the first winner of Design/Build/Launch! You inspire us!”

[ Dr. Erika Wagner, Payload Sales Director at Blue Origin, said,]

“Pushing the boundaries of technology are essential to charting our future course in space,” … “Eleanor’s passion to explore the unexplored and determination to bring clarity to science we don’t yet understand are unmatched, and we can’t wait to see how her experiment performs in space. We’re humbled to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM through payloads on our reusable New Shepard vehicle and our non-profit, Club for the Future.”

Eleanor has made presentations at the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Project Showcase in Washington, DC, and the 2017 World Science Festival in New York, NY. She leads workshops for middle-school girls, advocating for greater representation by women in STEM fields. She has been featured on NBC’s TODAY program in a “Girls Changing the World” segment and is a lifetime fellow of the American Junior Academy of Science. In May, Eleanor received the first-place AIAA “Look Up!” Award presented at the 2020 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF).

A fully reusable New Shepard rocket lifts off for a suborbital trip to space. Credits: Blue Origin

Design/Build/Launch (DBL) Competition
The DBL competition is open to high school students and designed to promote student engagement in microgravity and/or space technology research. Each proposal is composed of two parts: each entrant designed an experimental payload to be launched on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and described outreach plans to engage the public with the promise and excitement of space.

Eleanor’s DBL proposal was selected from among entries received from students from across the United States.

Eleanor will receive a $1,000 grant to prepare her work to fly on a future New Shepard flight. She will report on the results of her experiment at 2021 ASCEND, AIAA’s event dedicated to the space ecosystem.

About Blue Origin: For information on Blue Origin, visit and follow @BlueOrigin on Twitter and Instagram. To learn more about Club for the Future and our space mail program, visit and follow @ClubForFuture on Twitter and Instagram.

About AIAA: The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

About ASCEND: ASCEND stands for Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration and New Discovery and is designed to bring together technical and business leaders to solve problems that affect the entire planet and beyond. Powered by AIAA, the ASCEND event will happen online 16–18 November 2020. For more information, please visit, or follow ASCEND on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.8.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** Generation and detection of quantum entanglement in a CubeSat in orbit successfully demonstrated in a project led by National University of Singapore. The SpooQy Lab in Singapore built the SpooQy-1 CubeSat, which was deployed into orbit from the ISS on June 17, 2019.

The Optical Society article says, that the

… quantum mechanical phenomenon known as entanglement is essential to many quantum communications applications. However, creating a global network for entanglement distribution isn’t possible with optical fibers because of the optical losses that occur over long distances. Equipping small, standardized satellites in space with quantum instrumentation is one way to tackle this challenge in a cost-effective manner.

As a first step, the researchers needed to demonstrate that a miniaturized photon source for quantum entanglement could stay intact through the stresses of launch and operate successfully in the harsh environment of space within a satellite that can provide minimal energy. To accomplish this, they exhaustively examined every component of the photon-pair source used to generate quantum entanglement to see if it could be made smaller or more rugged.

SpooQy-1 cut-away model shows the avionics and location of the  SPEQS-2 polarization-entangled photon-pair experiment. Credits: SpooQy Lab

“At each stage of development, we were actively conscious of the budgets for mass, size and power,” said [lead author Aitor] Villar [of Univ. of Singapore]. “By iterating the design through rapid prototyping and testing, we arrived at a robust, small-form factor package for all the off-shelf components needed for an entangled photon-pair source.”

The new miniaturized photon-pair source consists of a blue laser diode that shines on nonlinear crystals to create pairs of photons. Achieving high-quality entanglement required a complete redesign of the mounts that align the nonlinear crystals with high precision and stability.

** BHUTAN-1 university CubeSat completes second year of operation : BHUTAN-1 orbiting the Earth for two years – KuenselOnline

BHUTAN-1 has been developed by Bhutanese engineers at the Kyushu Institute of Technology as part of their Master’s Degree under the BIRDS-2 Project.

BHUTAN-1 is capable of transmitting two types of data- mission data and housekeeping data. The data is received at the ground station located at the Ministry of Information and Communication compound, Thimphu.

Mission data are camera images captured from space.  Cheki Dorji, engineer with the Division of Telecom and Space (DTS) said that downloading images from the satellite was not feasible since Bhutan-1 satellite could not uplink the data from ground station to space to harness the image. It was the limitation of CubeSat built under the BIRDS-2 project, he said.

However, housekeeping data is transmitted from the satellite every day and studied. The status of the satellite such as its battery, temperature and its parts are known as housekeeping data.

The Deputy Executive Engineer with DTS, Kiran Kumar Pradhan said that although the capability of the satellite was limited, the function of small CubeSat was similar to a bigger satellite which gave them insight on how a bigger satellite works.

An article from when the Cubesat was launched in 2018: BHUTAN-1, Bhutan’s first space borne satellite deployed from ISS on 10 August – The Bhutanese

BHUTAN-1 CubeSat. Credits: BIRDS-2 project at Wikipedia.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-180 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Symposium Proceedings Now Available to AMSAT Members
  • Ham Talk Live Episode on Satellite Etiquette
  • ASEE Presentation on CubeSatSim
  • CAS-6 Becomes TO-108, Added to AMSAT TLE Distribution
  • AMSAT Announces Candidates for 2020 Board of Directors Election
  • ARISS Volunteer VK5ZAI Named Member of the Order of Australia
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

ANS-187 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin

  • Successful Launch of BY70-2 With FM-to-Codec2 Transponder
  • AMSAT Responds to Allegations of Unauthorized Legal Expenses
  • New Satellite Distance Records Set
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for July 2020
  • Virginia Air and Space Center Discontinues KE4ZXW Demo Station
  • AMSAT 2020 Board of Directors Election Upcoming
  • CAS-6 Becomes TO-108, Added to AMSAT TLE Distribution
  • San Diego Microwave Group Discusses ARISS Possibilities
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


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Space transport roundup – July.7.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):

[ Update: The launch was scrubbed due to thunderstorms in the area around the Cape. Another attempt will be made this Saturday, July 11th  during a window between 10:49 am to 11:00 am EDT.  Currently, the forecast shows a 60% chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff during the window.


** Delayed Starlink-9 mission now set for liftoff on Wednesday at 11:59 am EDT (1559 GMT) from Pad 39A at Cape Kennedy Space Center. The Falcon 9’s launch date was postponed several times in June and then moved till after the launch of a USAF GPS satellite. The rocket will carry 57 Starlink broadband Internet satellites and 2 BlackSky earth imaging satellites into polar orbit.

Four Falcon 9 launches could happen this month. Here are the three other missions with their no-earlier-than dates:

Find more about other SpaceX activities below.

** Rocket Lab Electron mission fails due to upper stage issue. This was the 13th launch of the Electron rocket, which also failed on its first test launch due to a communications problem in a ground system. Rocket Lab Mission Fails to Reach Orbit | Rocket Lab.

The payload consisted of seven satellites including a Canon Electronics CE-SAT-IB imaging satellite, five Planet SuperDove imaging smallsats, and the Faraday-1 6U CubeSat from In-Space Missions.

Scott Manley gives his view on the failure:

See also:

** China launches two rockets within three days. The first rocket was a Long March 4B rocket launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Lunch Center in northern China on July 2nd with a Gaofen remote sensing satellite as the primary payload. Also on board was the Xibaipo (BY 70-2) CubeSat, intended for science and education related tasks.

The second rocket was a Long March 2D that lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert carrying the Shiyan-6 satellite on July 5th. The Shiyan-6 is described as a remote sensing technology development system but is believed by analysts outside of China as a military reconnaissance satellite.

See also:

** Israel launched a reconnaissance satellite into orbit with a Shavit rocket. As with previous Israeli satellites, the rocket launched the Ofek 16 satellite towards the west over the Mediterranean Sea and into a retrograde orbit.

** Virgin Galactic to show SpaceShipTwo interior design on July 28th: Virgin Galactic Announces Date for World’s First Virtual Reveal of Spaceship Cabin Design – Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic today [July.2.2020] announced that SpaceShipTwo’s cabin interior design reveal will take place on July 28, 2020. The virtual event will be streamed live on YouTube. In celebration of this milestone, the Company will also be announcing plans to bring immersive experiences of Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight and cabin interior to aspiring astronauts around the world.

The unveiling of the spaceship cabin design marks the latest milestone towards Virgin Galactic’s operational readiness and will accentuate the Company’s focus on using inspired and bold design to transform the entire customer journey. While the cabin interior has been created to integrate seamlessly with every step of that journey, it is also the design centerpiece, providing safety without distraction, quietly absorbing periods of sensory intensity and offering each astronaut a level of intimacy required for personal discovery and transformation.

The live-streamed unveiling will feature a virtual walkthrough of the cabin, curated by the multi-disciplinary team which has striven to ensure that every detail of its design works to provide an unparalleled and safe consumer experience.

** NASA and Boeing give update on Starliner crew vehicle and uncrewed test flight: NASA and Boeing Complete Orbital Flight Test Reviews | NASA

NASA and Boeing have completed major reviews of the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 and are continuing with preparations to refly the test, designated Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“NASA and Boeing have completed a tremendous amount of work reviewing the issues experienced during the uncrewed flight test of Starliner,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator at NASA. “Ultimately, everything we’ve found will help us improve as we move forward in the development and testing of Starliner, and in our future work with commercial industry as a whole.”

The joint NASA-Boeing Independent Review team completed the final assessment into the intermittent space-to-ground communication issue detected during the first uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. The review team previously completed its investigation into the two other primary anomalies experienced during the test.

No date has been set yet for liftoff of the OFT-2 mission.

** Briefs:


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** SpaceX:

** The Falcon 9 booster for the recent USAF GPS III satellite launch has returned to Cape Canaveral : SpaceX adds fresh Falcon 9 booster to the fleet after drone ship recovery – Teslarati

SpaceX has added a second new Falcon 9 booster to its rocket fleet in just one month after B1060 safely returned to shore aboard drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) on July 4th.

Exactly 31 days prior, Falcon 9 booster B1058 sailed into Port Canaveral aboard drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) on June 3rd after becoming the first private rocket in history to launch astronauts into orbit. Prior to B1058’s successful May 30th launch and landing debut, SpaceX’s fleet of available flightworthy boosters appeared to be just three strong, comprised of B1049, B1051, and B1059. Supposedly (relatively) easy to reconfigure into regular Falcon 9 boosters, twice-flown Falcon Heavy side boosters B1052 and B1053 remain wildcards that seem unlikely to re-enter circulation anytime soon.

In other words, SpaceX has grown its fleet of flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters by almost 70% in a single month, undoubtedly bringing with it some welcome sighs of relief for the second half of the company’s 2020 launch manifest. Given just how ambitious SpaceX’s plans are for the next six months, both boosters are set to be invaluable assets in the near term.

A view of the landing of this booster:

**** Starship

After the SN5 Starship prototype passed its cryogenic pressure tests last week, work continued this week on the launch platform and on installation of a Raptor engine. It had once been expected that SN5 would get 3 engines. However, it appears that SN5 will do the one engine powered test hop that was previously planned for the SN4 prototype. Before it had a chance to fly, SN4 was destroyed by a huge explosion from the ignition of methane that poured out when a quick-release attachment at the base of the vehicle failed following an engine test firing.

According to the current road closure schedule, the earliest we’ll see engine test firings for the SN5 is Friday July 10th.

A huge “high bay” building is now under construction. It will be used for assembly of Super Heavy Booster prototypes. An awesome “Bluezilla” crane was assembled over the last week and it has begun lifting structural sections into place.: SpaceX Super Heavy ‘high bay’ construction begins in South Texas – Teslarati.

Before SpaceX can launch a massive and super noisy Super Heavy, it will need to update the company’s FAA environmental review and license for the Boca Chica facility: SpaceX facility under FAA review after changing rocket tests in South Texas –

Border Report was told the FAA had not approved significant plans that SpaceX has for the facility since the company told the agency it had switched projects and is now using this facility to develop a new, massive spacecraft to travel to Mars, called the Starship. The FAA also said it has begun a new environmental review of the company’s new plans.

“The current testing falls within the current EIS. However, a full-scale Starship launch site falls outside the scope of the 2014 EIS. The FAA is in the early stages of an environmental review. Any proposal must meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the FAA’s policies and procedures for conducting a NEPA review,” an FAA official wrote in an email to Border Report on Friday.

****** Boca Chica flyovers posted today by RGV Aerial Photography:

****** July 2: SpaceX Boca Chica – Bluezilla Rises! Super Heavy High Bay Builder – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

The biggest crane to arrive at Boca Chica – which is some achievement based on previous big cranes – came to life on Thursday. “Bluezilla” will help build the new Super Heavy High Bay. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)

****** July 3: SpaceX Boca Chica – Raptor SN27 set for Starship SN5 Installation – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Raptor engine SN27 has arrived for installation into Starship SN5 for the latest test campaign. Meanwhile, work continues on the Super Heavy pad and the Nosecones are multiplying. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritis

****** July 4: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN27 Raptor Installed – Mystery Dome in work – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Starship SN5 now has her SN27 Raptor installed while work goes on around SpaceX Boca Chica, include the sighting of a mystery dome for a test tank or future Starship. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritist)

****** July 5: SpaceX Boca Chica – Bluezilla Stretches Its Limbs – Boca Drive Past – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

In today’s Starship update: the Manitowoc Model 18000 Crane (AKA Bluezilla) stretches its limbs, the Mystery Dome sees some progress, work on SN5 with Raptor 27 installed continues ahead of engine testing, and Mary treats us all to a Sunday drive past Boca Chica for a checkup on the entire site. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)

****** July 6: SpaceX Boca Chica – Build Site Bonanza – SN5 Nearly Ready – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

It’s a Build Site bonanza in today’s Boca Chica Update. A new ring was moved into the fabrication tents, the Manitowoc 18000 crane started off its work on the site with some light lifting, some interesting parts were delivered and work on SN5 and Raptor SN27 continued. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)

** Webcast rocket reports:

**** Starship updates with SN5 Pressure Test, SpaceX GPS III, Mars Perseverance Rover Launch Date SlipsMarcus House

Yet again, another huge week of space news. We have some Starship updates with the SN5 Pressure Test, SpaceX GPS III mission went off perfectly, but the Mars Perseverance Rover Launch Date Slips close to the end of the Mars launch window. The starship SN5 has been pressured up this week with liquid nitrogen getting ready for a static fire test quite soon we hope. We’ve got a bunch of news and updates around the development of the Space Launch System, SpaceX had another incredible launch with the GPS III mission during the week. Flawless yet again. A few updates on the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission to share and also we have our fingers crossed that the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission will get across the line before the end of the launch window to Mars after yet another delay in the schedule.

**** What’s hiding in SpaceX’s Starship? + SpaceX Starship – Why are they building it in a scrap yard?What about it!?

**  Mars Mission Update: June 2020Martian Colonist

The successful Commercial Crew launch by SpaceX and NASA has forever changed spaceflight. Now, for the first time, there is a clear path to sending humans to Mars. Aspiring Martian Colonist Dr. Ryan MacDonald charts the course towards the first human missions to the Red Planet.


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Space policy roundup – July.6.2020

A sampling of links to recent space policy, politics, and government (US and international) related space news and resource items that I found of interest (find previous space policy roundups here):

International space


** The Space Show – Tues. July.1.2020Rod Pyle and Dr. Anthony Paustian talked about the upcoming NSS A Day In Space and ISDC 2021.

** UK Government Rescues Oneweb From BankruptcyScott Manley

After declaring bankruptcy earlier this year satellite network Oneweb has been rescued with a surprise, Billion dollar investment by the UK government and Bharti Global. More curiously, there are suggestions that the people behind the deal might be justifying the investment based on Oneweb being able to provide geolocation technology to replace Britain’s lost secure access to Galileo.

** E21 – Cislunar Stewardship: Planning for Sustainability and Cooperation (with Jim Vedda and George Pollock)  –  Aerospace CSPS 

** E22 – The Future of Commercial Space Flight (with Jamie Morin and Charlie Bolden) –  Aerospace CSPS 


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The Space Show this week – July.6.2020

The guests and topics of discussion on The Space Show this week:

1. Monday, July 6, 2020; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT: No special programming.

2. Tuesday, July 7, 2020; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT): We welcome back Robert (Bob) Zimmerman of Behind the Black for space news and policy updates plus more.

3. Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

4. Thursday, July 9, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): No special program today.

5. Friday, July 10, 2020; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome back Dr. James A. Vedda with Dr. George Pollock of The Aerospace Corporation regarding their Center For Space Policy And Strategy paper, Cislunar Stewardship: Planning For Sustainability And International Cooperation.

6. Sunday, July 12, 2020; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): Dr. Alan Stern returns for news regarding Pluto, New Horizons and more.

Some recent shows:

** The Space Show – Tues. July.1.2020Rod Pyle and Dr. Anthony Paustian talked about the upcoming NSS A Day In Space and ISDC 2021.

** Sun. June.28.2020 – David Livingston hosted an open lines program in which were discussed many different topics with multiple callers.

** Fri. June26.2020Jim Lewis first gave “an update on the business and economy of the Space Coast of Florida”. He then talked about his
“new Amazon Prime sci fy TV series” and about “film-making, science fiction and lots of related topics”.

** See also:
* The Space Show Archives
* The Space Show Newsletter
* The Space Show Shop

The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.

The Space Show - David Livingston
The Space Show – David Livingston

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