Student satellite projects

It’s becoming increasingly common for students in colleges as well as in grade schools and high schools to built small satellites and see them go into space before they graduate. Here is a story about one such project in Oregon: Student Satellite …. Radio | OPB

The Oregon Small Satellite Project is an ad hoc group of students and educators working on a nano-satellite or “cubesat” to hand off to NASA to launch into space next year. Andrew Greenberg is the faculty advisor for the Portland State Aerospace Society, the group heading up the project. He joins us to talk about the project and its mission.  


The basic IU CubeSat is 10 cm to a side:


Chinese students are also getting involved: China to launch first student satellite for scientific education – Xinhua |

China’s first nano-satellite with primary and middle school students involved in the development and building process will be launched into space Friday.

The satellite, named after late Premier Zhou Enlai, was sent from its production base in Huai’an Youth Comprehensive Development Base in east China’s Jiangsu Province to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gansu Province Monday, where a CZ-11 solid fuel rocket is scheduled to put it into orbit Friday.

Twenty teenagers who participated in the development project accompanied the transport group to the launch center and will witness the lift-off.


A smallsat built and operated by a student team in Colorado helped solve a mystery of the earth’s radiation belts: How A CU Student Satellite Solved A Major Space Mystery | Boulder, CO Patch

The CubeSat mission, called the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE), houses a small, energetic particle telescope to measure the flux of solar energetic protons and Earth’s radiation belt electrons. Launched in 2012, CSSWE has involved more than 65 CU Boulder students and was operated for more than two years from a ground station they built on the roof of a LASP building on campus.

The instrument on CSSWE, called the Relativistic, Electron and Proton Telescope integrated little experiment (REPTile), is a smaller version of REPT, twin instruments developed by a CU Boulder team led by LASP director and Nature paper co-author Daniel Baker that were launched on NASA’s 2012 Van Allen Probes mission.

“This is really a beautiful result and a big insight derived from a remarkably inexpensive student satellite, illustrating that good things can come in small packages,” said Baker. “It’s a major discovery that has been there all along, a demonstration that Yogi Berra was correct when he remarked ‘You can observe a lot just by looking.'”

“These results reveal, for the first time, how energetic charged particles in the near-Earth space environment are created,” said Irfan Azeem, a program director in the NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences.


While not as challenging or time consuming as building a real satellite, this lesson plan on making a satellite model is nevertheless quite instructive for students: Build a Satellite Activity | NASA/JPL Edu.


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