NASA picks UB School of Engineering and the Discovery Museum for satellite launch

NASA picks UB School of Engineering and the Discovery Museum for satellite launch

NASA has selected 24 small satellites, €”including one being developed by the University of Bridgeport School of Engineering, the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, University of Hawaii, and UTC Aerospace Systems, €”to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets that are scheduled to launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The flights are part of NASA’s research initiative, known as the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) program.

CubeSats, like the one being developed by UB and its partners, belong to a class of smaller research spacecraft called nanosatellites that measure about 4 inches on each side, have a volume of about 1 quart, and weigh less than 3 pounds (1.1 kilograms).

The satellite itself will be built and tested through collaboration among UB School of Engineering, Discovery Museum, the University of Hawaii/NASA Astrobiology, with the support of engineers from UTC Aerospace.

Dr. Jani Macari Pallis, a mechanical engineering professor at UB School of Engineering, will co-lead the CubeSat’s design, construction, testing, and integration with Dr. Brendan Hermalyn, from the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She will also serve as one of the education and curriculum development team leaders and work with the data analysis and science payload team.

“I am grateful to the Discovery Museum and Planetarium for this incredible opportunity, as well as the support of my colleagues on this endeavor: Dr. Hassan Bajwa from Electrical Engineering, Dr. Neal Lewis from Technology Management, and Richard Yelle, director of the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design,” said Pallis.

“While we’re all thrilled about the satellite development and the launch opportunity, we are equally excited about the teaching and learning experience this will create for our undergraduate and graduate students. Integrating satellite design into our curriculum and involving UB students was one of our key contributions to the Museum’s CubeSat proposal to NASA.”

The main research payload onboard the satellite is a detector that will help characterize the amount of uncontrolled material in orbit, including both natural micrometeorites and man-made space debris. The satellite will relay research data to ground stations, including the Mission Control Center at the Discovery Museum.

Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport, Dr. Tarek Sobh, added, “This exciting project will offer unique learning and research experiences for our students and faculty, and will clearly enhance our students’ employment options within STEM-oriented industries. The project falls within UB’s mission and leadership role as a regional center of excellence in engineering and technology and we look forward to this collaboration with our colleagues at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium and ATC Aeropace Systems, as well as forming a new learning and research partnership with the University of Hawaii.”

The Discovery Museum CubeSat will be eligible for flight once testing and final arrangements with NASA are completed.

For more details on NASA’s CSLI program, please see
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,