News and Announcements

News and Announcements

This section is intended for brief news items or announcements only. If appropriate, we will provide a link to a longer announcement or related article.
Please submit news items or announcements to in a word file format.

April 2019
AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee (SmSTC) Seeks
Nominations for Candidates for 2019 Mission of the Year Award

The AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee (SmSTC) invites nominations for candidates for the fifth annual SmallSat Mission of the Year Award. Nominations must be received not later than Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Please visit to view a list of suggested nominations or submit an anonymous recommendation. You may also submit your nomination directly to
Nominators are encouraged to write in nominees that are not included on the list of suggstions. The following databases may be useful for selecting nominees:
The AIAA SmSTC Mission of the Year Award is presented annually to the mission that has demonstrated a significant improvement in the capability of small satellites. Eligible missions must have individual satellite wet mass of less than 150 kg, and must have launched, established communication, and have acquired results from on-orbit after Jan. 1, 2018 00:00:00 UTC. To demonstrate “significant improvement,” nominations must show innovation in: spacecraft structural design, scientific instrument development, communications capability, attitude determination and control capability, intersatellite coordination, constellation or cluster management, onboard computing, or other mission aspects. The judges may consider missions with earlier launch dates that had delayed ISS deployments or extensive on-orbit checkout periods, on a case-by-case basis.
The SmSTC will generate a short list of finalists based on the submitted nominations. Finalists will be notified and given the opportunity to contribute to their mission description on the voting webpage. Conference attendees will receive an email at the Pre-Conference Workshop with a link to the final voting webpage, where they are invited to vote and rank the finalists. Voting is open to the public (not limited to Conference attendees), and will close at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 7. The Small Satellite Technical Committee will then select the winner, informed by the public vote, and will announce the award at the Conference on Thursday, Aug. 8.

April 2019
Judges and Sponsors Needed for New AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee (SmSTC) Student Poster Competition at the 2019 SmallSat Pre-Conference Workshop
To highlight and recognize the efforts and accomplishments of student research projects, the AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee (SmSTC) is hosting a new student poster competition that will take place during the Pre-Conference Workshop poster-viewing sessions on Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4, 2019. This poster competition is separate from the long-standing Frank J. Redd Competition during SmallSat. The Poster Competition will award certificates and small cash prizes to the top three posters. Students participating in the poster competition are expected to be first author and to be present at their poster during poster viewing times, to engage with the (unidentified) judges.
Interested Sponsors and Volunteer Judges should contact by 11:59 pm on Thursday, August 1, 2019. Awards will be presented at the Conference on Thursday, August 8.

April 2019
NASA Demos CubeSat Laser Communications Capability
Two NASA CubeSats teamed up on an impromptu optical, or laser, communications pointing experiment. The laser beam is seen as a brief flash of light close to the center of the focal plane, to the left of Earth’s horizon.
The light originated from the laser communications system onboard one of two Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) spacecraft. The laser flash was recorded by a short-wavelength infrared camera, one of three cameras comprising the CubeSat Multispectral Observation System (CUMULOS) payload, onboard the Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA) spacecraft. At the time of the demonstration, the OCSD and ISARA spacecraft were both 280 miles above Earth and about 1,500 miles apart.
The optical communications beam was deliberately aimed at and swept across the ISARA camera. This demonstration shows that an optical crosslink between two CubeSats is feasible with proper pointing and alignment of the emitting and receiving spacecraft. Optimizing this capability could enable constellations of small satellites to transfer high volume data between one another in low-Earth orbit or even in orbit around the Moon.
For more information, see:

December 2018
CT for Clouds: SmallSat Mission to Answer Climate Questions Wins European Research Council Award

(L-R) Prof. Ilan Koren, Prof. Yoav Schechner and Prof. Klaus Schilling in front of the precision turntables of ZfT to test satellite formation characteristics.

An Israeli-German mission to launch a formation of ten tiny satellites that use medically-inspired CT (computed tomography) algorithms to answer climate questions has been awarded €14 million by the European Research Council (ERC) Synergy Program. The smallsat mission is slated to enter orbit in a few years and begin filling in some gaping holes in our understanding of clouds and their role in climate.

The multi-disciplinary project was inspired by medical CT (computed tomography), which observes and maps the interior of a patient, the designers are creating a system that will reveal detailed images of clouds’ external and internal 3D structures and properties. By probing small cloud fields that are generally missed by today’s remote sensing technologies, the mission may resolve some major uncertainties that limit current atmospheric modelling and climate prediction.

CloudCT, as the mission is known, is led by Prof. Yoav Schechner (the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion, Haifa), an expert in computer vision and computed tomography; Prof. Ilan Koren (Earth and Planetary Sciences Department of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot), an expert in cloud and rain physics; and Prof. Klaus Schilling (the Center for Telematics, Würzburg), a leader in the field of small satellite formation technology.

Click here to read the complete press release.


December 2018

NASA Receiving Deep Space Data from MarCO CubeSats

MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One/MarCO CubeSats, took this image of Mars from about 4,700 miles/7,600 kilometers away, during its flyby of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s MarCO mission was built to see whether two experimental, briefcase-sized spacecraft could survive the trip to deep space, and the two CubeSats proved more than able. After cruising along behind NASA’s InSight for seven months, they successfully relayed data back down to Earth from the lander during its descent to the Martian surface on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.
In the image to the left, MarCO-B was flying by Mars with its twin, MarCO-A to attempt to serve as communications relays for NASA’s InSight spacecraft as it landed on Mars.
Read more at:


December 2018
NASA’s Insight Spacecraft Lands on Mars

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA’s InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For more on the Mars landing and NASA Insight Mission, see:

December 2018
Venture Class Rockets: New Video
For years, tiny CubeSat satellites could only fly into space as hitchhikers, riding along with larger, primary payloads. Now, thanks to Venture Class Launch Services, these small packages of big science are getting their own rides into space on dedicated rockets — and on their own terms. Rocket Lab USA of Huntington Beach, California, and Virgin Orbit of Long Beach, California, are the two companies poised to propel CubeSats from coach class to first class.


See this new video on Venture class CubeSats at: (Music Courtesy of Gothic Storm Music).


October 2018
NASA Tests Small Satellites to Track Global Storms

The RainCube 6U CubeSat with fully-deployed antenna Credit: NASA JPL-Caltech

RainCube, sponsored by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office through the InVEST-15 program, uses experimental small satellite technology to see storms by detecting rain and snow with very small instruments. This CubeSat is a prototype for a possible fleet of such small satellites that could one day help monitor severe storms, lead to improving the accuracy of weather forecasts and track climate change over time.
RainCube was deployed into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station in July. The first images it sent back were from an area above Mexico, where it took a snapshot of a developing storm in August, demonstrating its possibilities for use in formation with other such satellites to track storms by relaying updated information on them every few minutes. Eventually, they could yield data to help evaluate and improve weather models that predict the movement of rain, snow, sleet and hail.
To read the full NASA article on RainCube, see:

October 2018
Small Satellite Demonstrates Possible Solution for Hazards Posed by Space Debris

NanoRacks-Remove Debris Satellite launch view taken by Expedition 56 crew. Credit: NASA

Space debris can lead to collisions and potential damage to operational satellites, which may affect satellite-dependent services on earth. In recent years, a credible solution for addressing this threat has been under investigation: the active removal of large space debris objects by capture and then disposal by destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, or in graveyard orbits.
On June 20, 2018, the NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite was deployed into space from outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module of the International Space Station to demonstrate possible technologies for active debris removal in-orbit. This technology demonstration was designed to explore the use of a 3D camera to map the location and speed of orbital debris to establish the best way of handling a specific object of debris. The NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite also successfully deployed a net to capture a nanosatel-lite that simulated debris.
Read more at:

July 2018
Tiny Cameras Snap Pictures of Great Lake

These two images of Lake Superior and surrounding area show the first data downlinked from the CubeSat Multispectral Observation System (CUMULOS), an Aerospace Corporation demonstration of an experimental payload hosted on NASA’s Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA) small spacecraft mission managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The image on the left, taken by a short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) camera, captures a larger area of the lake and shows strong contrast between land and water features. The narrower field of view image on the right taken by the payload’s long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) camera indicates a difference in water temperature between the lake’s center and the water in the bays and inlets.
CUMULOS is testing the performance of commercial sensors for weather and environmental monitoring missions. The cameras are designed for point-and-stare imaging and allow almost simultaneous coverage of Earth regions from an orbital altitude of 280 miles (452 km).
See the NASA write-up of this item at:

Credit: NASA

July 2018
Small Satellite Demonstrating Space Debris Removal Set for Deployment
Expedition 56 flight engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA prepares the RemoveDEBRIS satellite for deployment aboard the International Space Station. The satellite was successfully deployed from the NanoRacks deployer on station June 20, 2018. It will demonstrate an approach to reducing the risks presented by space debris or “space junk”.
See the NASA write-up at:

July 2018
NASA Tests Solar Sail for CubeSat that Will Study Near-Earth Asteroids
NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, a small satellite designed to study asteroids close to Earth, performed a successful deployment test June 28 of the solar sail that will launch on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). The test was performed in an indoor clean room at the NeXolve facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
Read the full NASA item at:

January 2018

Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute Helps Virginia Students Prepare for Space Flight

Virginia CubeSat Constellation students in Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute Test Chamber. Left to right: James Flynn, ODU; John Noon, Virginia Tech; Ben Connelly, UVA; Anthony DeFilippis, Virginia Tech; David Khanan, UVA; Nathan Gaul, UVA; Michael Ford, UVA; William Cheng, UVA; and Patrick Bebermeyer, UVA.

The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) is working with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) to test components of student satellites bound for orbit. The Institute’s proton beam, which offers cutting edge cancer treatments, is being used to simulate the impact of radiation encountered in the space environment on space hardware developed by the students.
The Virginia CubeSat Constellation is a NASA and VSGC-funded mission that will place three very small satellites in orbit as a constellation from the International Space Station as part of the NASA Undergraduate Student Instrument program. The student-led mission is a Virginia Space Grant Consortium project and a joint effort among four member universities: University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Tech (VT), Old Dominion University (ODU) and Hampton University (HU). More than 100 students across the universities have been working on the project.

Dr. Hovakim Nazaryan, Ph.D., right, Medical Physicist at the Hampton Proton Therapy Institute explains the irradiation set up to James Flynn (ODU) and Tony DeFilippis (Virginia Tech). Note: For this test, the jug of water was used to stop the proton beam.

The Constellation was selected for launch to the International Space Station in the third quarter of 2018 or early 2019 with orbital insertion to follow from the Station. Students must deliver their satellites to NASA for integration in July 2018. The ODU satellite, which has a drag brake to intentionally cause orbital decay, is expected to remain in orbit for up to four months. The other two satellites should orbit for up to two years. The satellites will communicate data to ground stations at VT, UVA, and ODU for subsequent analysis using an analytical tool being developed by HU.
The mission seeks to obtain measurements of the orbital decay of a constellation of satellites to develop a database of atmospheric drag and the variability of atmospheric properties. It will also evaluate and demonstrate a system to determine and communicate relative and absolute spacecraft position across an orbiting constellation.
See Press Release_HU Proton Therapy Institute to read more.

November 2017

Welcoming new Technical Area Editor (TAE) Streetman


Brett Streetman, Ph.D.

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Brett J. Streetman as a new Technical Area Editor (TAE) in the areas of Guidance, Navigation, and Control; Trajectory and Orbital Mechanics; Interplanetary Probes; and Formation Flying. Currently a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Draper Laboratory, Dr. Streetman has research and project experience in areas including orbit dynamics of electrically charged spacecraft, analysis of the attitude control system for the International Space Stations, guidance navigation and control of planetary landers and hoppers, and guidance navigation and control of autonomous parafoils.

November 2017

Call for Payloads for Sept. 2018 Flight of the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) Through NASA Balloon Program Office and Louisiana Space Grant Consortium

Applications submitted in response to the Call for Payloads (CFP) for the September 2018 flight of the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) are due December 15, 2017.
HASP can support up to 12 student payloads (providing power, telemetry and commanding) during a flight to an altitude of 122,000 feet for up to 20 hours. The NASA Balloon Program Office and Louisiana Space Grant Consortium anticipate flying HASP at least through 2018. There is no cost for launch and flight operations. Student teams will need to raise their own funds to support the development of their payload and, if necessary, for travel to Palestine, TX for HASP integration and Ft. Sumner, NM for flight operations.
Details about previous HASP flights and the student payloads flown can be found on the “Flight Information” page of the HASP website at <>.
Details on the payload constraints and interface with HASP as well as online access to the CFP materials can be found on the “Participant Info” page of the HASP website at <>.
Selections will be announced by mid-January 2018.
If you have any questions about the application materials or HASP, feel free to contact

November 2017

CubeSat Mission Applications Being Accepted for KiboCUBE Third Round

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are pleased to announce the third round of the United Nations/Japan Cooperation Programme on CubeSat Deployment from the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) “KiboCUBE.”
If your institution is interested in applying, please visit the dedicated KiboCUBE page on our web site at:
Please send the fully completed application documents comprising of a CubeSat Mission Application as well as a letter of endorsement from the head of the applying entity to by March 31, 2018.

October 2017

Welcome New JoSS Technical Area Editors (TAEs)


Chantal Cappelletti, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, Chantal Cappelletti, Ph.D. joins us from the University of Brasilia, where she is actively involved in microsatellite design, manufacturing, and launching; biomedical research in space; and space debris. Author of more than 30 publications, she has also led six satellite projects from Italy, including the UNISAT program, and from Brazil (SERPENS). Prof. Cappelletti was the PI for two missions concerning cancer cell behavior in space and ASI delegate at IADC. With the IAA, she chaired the two IAA Latin American CubeSat Workshops; co-chaired the two IAA University Satellite Missions Conferences in Rome; chairs the Biomedical Research in Space group; and is a member of both Applications of Micro-Satellites and CubeSats to Planetary Missions and Definition and Requirements of Small Satellites groups.

Mengu Cho, Ph.D.

Prof. Mengu Cho, Ph.D. received B.E. and M.E. degrees from the Department of Aeronautics, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, in 1985 and 1987, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA, in 1992. After working at Kobe University in Japan and International Space University in France, he moved to Kyushu Institute of Technology (KYUTECH) in 1996. Since 2004, he has been a Professor and also the Director of the Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering (LaSEINE) of KYUTECH, and since 2014, he has been a visiting professor of Nanyang Technological University.
His research interest includes spacecraft environmental interaction. He has authored or co-authored more than 140 papers in peer reviewed journals. He served as a project lead of a standardization project for ISO-19683, “Space systems — Design qualification and acceptance tests of small spacecraft and units” that was confirmed in 2017. He supervised the KYUTECH satellite projects that launched and operated a 7kg nano-satellite and a 12kg nanosatellite successfully in 2012 and 2016. In 2017, he launched five 1U CubeSat constellations from ISS. He organized various international conferences, including International Workshop on Lean Satellite Standardization. He is a member of IAA, IEEE, AIAA, JSAS, and IEEJ, and was awarded the Space Development and Utilization Award by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan.

Kamran Turkoglu, Ph.D.

Kamran Turkoglu, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, at San Jose State University (SJSU), CA USA. His current research focus is on nonlinear systems, consensus problems in multi-agent systems, optimization, real-time optimal guidance strategies, classical control theory, flight control systems, autonomous systems (including unmanned aircraft, aerial vehicles, self-driving cars and systems), battery control systems and time-delayed systems. Prof. Turkoglu received a BSc degree in Aerospace Engineering and a double major BSc degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey in 2005 and 2006, respectively. He received his MSc degree in Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey in 2007 and a PhD degree in Control Science & Aerospace Engineering from University of Minnesota, USA in 2012. He is the director of Flight Control Systems and UAV Laboratory (FCS Lab) and Control Science and Dynamical System Laboratory (CSDy Lab), located in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering at SJSU. He is also a member of AIAA, IEEE, IEEE Control Systems Society, ASME and SIAM.

August 2017

An Indian “Smart Village” Youth Team Builds a CubeSat


Prof. Solomon Darwin, Executive Director, Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, UC-Berkeley

Through a series of meetings in 2016-2017, the concept of a “Village in Space” was advanced among Prof. Solomon Darwin, Executive Director, Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation (UC, Berkeley, HAAS School of Business), Greg Schmidt (NASA Ames Research Center), Joseph Minafra (NASA contractor Wyle/KBR), Prof. Bob Twiggs (Morehead State University), and JoSS (Dr. Adarsh Deepak, Managing Editor (ME) and Ravi Deepak, Assistant ME). The idea, as proposed by Ravi, was that under expert mentorship, village youth would build a small satellite, such as a CubeSat, that could be launched into space during a space flight, thereby achieving the distinction of being the “first village in space.”
The mechanism for accomplishing this was found in the Garwood Center’s ongoing efforts to prototype a “Smart Village” in collaboration with the Government of India; through this project, in 2016, over 22 technology firms from around the world participated in prototyping a “smart” scalable village (Mori village being the first) to serve as a model for rest of the 650,000 Indian villages in India. Open innovation methods and strategies were employed to connect the villagers with technology firms such as Google, IBM, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Cisco, Microsoft, Tyco, and others. The work continued in Mori in 2017 for the building of a CubeSat by some of the village’s youngest members.
The “Open Innovation Forum – India 2017” will acknowledge this achievement on August 31 on the KL University campus, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, near the Mori village, with the participation of Prof. Darwin, Mr. Schmidt, and Mr. Minafra. The Forum will be chaired by Hon. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh.
In a commensurate gesture of support, the JoSS team (including Taksha Institute,, an independent US not-for-profit education and research organization founded in 1976) is pleased to announce the co-sponsorship with Prof. Darwin of one of the two youths who built the CubeSat to visit the US for the August 2018 Small Satellite Conference at USU, Logan UT. Representing the JoSS team, Pat Deepak (JoSS Education Outreach Cordinator) will travel to Mori Village during the Innovation Forum to meet the girl-boy team that built the CubeSat.

July 2017

June 2017 DPSS17 Conference: Collaborating with Private Space Industry for Scientific Research

At the June 3-4, 2017 Dawn of Private Space Science (DPSS17) Conference co-organized at Columbia University, New York City, by Drs. Szabi and Zsuzsa Marka and Dr. Mark Jackson, a wide range of students, scientists, business representative, and educators gathered to share thoughts about conducting scientific research in collaboration with the private space industry, including remarks on the use of small satellites to do so. Dr. Erika Wagner of Blue Origin, for example, spoke on opportunities (including smallsat opportunities) for space science in microgravity and the ‘ignorosphere’ with the private space industry. As a co-sponsor, the Journal of Small Satellites (JoSS) was represented at the event by Dr. Adarsh and Pat Deepak.

Szabolcs (“Szabi”) Marka, Ph.D.

Zsuzsana (“Zsuzsa”) Marka, Ph.D.

Mark Jackson, Ph.D.

The DPSS17 “opened the conversation between multiple stakeholders interested in the future of science in space,” says Dr. Szabolcs Marka, a professor of physics at Columbia and president of the Science Partnership Fund (SPF), the nonprofit that organized DPSS17 in partnership with The Planetary Society.
See for more information about DPSS17.

July 2017

The 2017 Eclipse Experiments

Several thousand eclipse research teams worldwide plan to take photographs or videos of the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse during its various phases ranging from partial to totality — from ground, airborne, or space platforms, including small-satellites.* While most of the photos are likely to be “cosmetic” photos, others taken by the researchers are likely to be “technical” photos that provide the absolute intensity of the direct or scattered radiation, with or without the use of multi-spectral and/or polarized filters.
Two STC-JoSS Eclipse Teams (consisting of Drs. Adarsh Deepak, Pi-Huan Wang, and Mark Schoeberl, along with Ravi Deepak) plan to conduct the 2nd Solar Aureole Photographic Eclipse Experiment (SAPEX2) during the pre-, during-, post- phases of the Total Solar Eclipse at two locations: Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Albany, Oregon (Schoeberl). The rationale for choosing these locations was the likelihood of a cloud–free sky on the eclipse date. Jackson Hole is in the lee of the Teton mountain range at an elevation of 6300 feet above sea level; at that location, the period of totality will last two minutes, 19.3 seconds, beginning at about 11:35am MDT. One Team member (AD) vividly recalls conducting the first SAPEX1 as part of the University of Florida team (under supervision of the late Professor Alex E.S. Green) during the total solar eclipse of March 7, 1970, during which the team could not out-race in their cars the clouds that started forming over Gainesville just before the eclipse start, and had to settle for setting-up their experimental equipment in a farmer’s field in Georgia.

SAPEX Equipment (from

The SAPEX is relatively simple experiment that involves the use of a camera (normally available globally) and a blocker (with or without a Neutral Density filter of ~10-4) kept at 24 inches away to block the camera lens from the sun’s direct rays. This photographic film camera is interchangeable with a smart-phone or iPhone camera, such has been done in the iPhotometer, developed and patented by STC (Dr. Mark Schoeberl, STC Chief Scientist). It is recommended that the SAPEX be used as a part of the STEM program at the high school level upwards.
The goal of SAPEX is to determine the rate of variation of scattered radiation (at different spectral bands) as a function of the angular distances away (1)

Note that the isophotes (equal-intensity contours) of radiation around the solar disk provide unique fingerprints of atmospheric aerosols in the sky. (from

from the sun’s center during non-totality; and (2) within the dark side of the moon during totality. In the first case, the angular rate of degradation of the scattered radiation from solar center is a relatively accurate method of determining the atmospheric aerosol size-distribution. In the second case, the angular variation of radiation on the dark-side of the moon during totality is the only way to measure the presence of multiple scattering (MS) in order to make the MS corrections to obtain the true optical depth of the atmospheric aerosols at that location.
For those around the globe who will only be able to see the partial or annular eclipse, to calculate the radiation during the partial or annular phases of the Solar Eclipse, see the following basic paper published as a NASA Text in 1974: Deepak, A., and J.E. Merrill, Spectral Irradiance Curve Calculations for Any Type of Solar Eclipse, NASA TM X-64842 (1974).
Any JoSS readers who are engaged in an Eclipse17 experiment and wish to connect for information exchange with the JoSS Eclipse Team, please do so via email at or phone at 757-766-7990.
*[As a reference, the following website of NASA Total Solar Eclipse Interactive Map, Aug 21, 2017, is an excellent resource for determining the eclipse characteristics by pointing their cursor at any location along the eclipse corridor within the USA:]

May 2017

New Technical Area Editor (TAE) On Board

JoSS welcomes Astrogator John Carrico to its corps of Editors, with expertise in many of our topic areas.
Among his current professional responsibilities, he performs due diligence of potential investments and develops future aerospace business strategies. He has worked on flight dynamics mission analysis, operations, development, and systems integration, and has supported several operational Earth and Lunar spacecraft missions. He has designed and written trajectory design algorithms and software used for mission analysis and spacecraft operations, and has given courses worldwide on mission planning, trajectory design, manuever planning, and mission operations. Carrico also has experience in geospatial intelligence systems, and has performed reearch and development in the chemical monitoring and detection field.

October 2016

New Technical Area Editors (TAEs) On Board

We have several new experts among our prestigious corps of Technical Area Editors (TAEs) at JoSS!
Cahoy-Clear Cropped and ResizedKerri Cahoy, Ph.D., Boeing Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, joined us earlier this year. After receiving her M.S. (2002) and Ph.D. (2008) in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Dr. Cahoy worked on the Mars Global Surveyor Radio Science Team, and then as a Senior Payload Engineer at Space Systems Loral, a NASA Postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames, and a research scientist on GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) at NASA Goddard. She received a 2013 AFOSR Young Investigator grant to investigate the sensitivity of communication satellite components to space weather, and a NASA New Investigator Program in Earth Science grant in 2014 to enable atmospheric data retrieval from nanosatellite sensors. She is excited to share her expertise with JoSS constituents who submit articles in the technical areas of Payload/Science/-Missions; Electrical Power Systems (EPS); Tracking, Telemetry, and Communications (TT&C); and Command and Data Handling (C&DH).
patterson-resized-and-adjustedJoSS also recently welcomed Pat Patterson, Ph.D., Director of Advanced Concepts for Space Dynamics Laboratory, as a TAE with expertise in the areas of: CONOPS/Systems; Formation Flying; Payloads/Science/Missions; and Integration and Testing.
Dr. Patterson received his M.S. (1990) in Spacecraft Controls Systems and a Ph.D. (2005) in Space Systems Engineering from Utah State University. He is currently the Director of the Advanced Concepts Division within Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory (USU/SDL), and is the Chairman of the annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics/USU Conference on Small Satellites. Other roles include membership on the Technical Committee for the European Space Agency’s 4S Symposium, and the Scientific Program Committee for the International Academy of Astronautics Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation. Dr. Patterson also serves as an Industrial Advisory Committee member for USU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

May 2016

MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) Student Team Places Second in NASA’s CubeQuest Challenge


MIT's KitCube GT-2 Team

MIT’s KitCube GT-2 Team. Back: Scarlett Koller, Angie Crews, Rachel Weinberg, Johannes Norheim, Maxim Khatsenko. Front: Kate Cantu, Max Yates. Photo: Rachel Weinberg.

JoSS is pleased to announce that MIT’s KitCube satellite design project has placed second in G-2, the second ground tournament of NASA’s CubeQuest Challenge. The CubeSat Challenge offers a total of over $5 million in prizes to teams that can develop CubeSats that can operate in deep space or lunar orbit, and the top three competitors in the final ground tournament will win a spot on the Space Launch System’s Exploration Mission 1 launch, currently scheduled for 2018. Two ground tournaments remain; the next competition, GT-3, takes place in August 2016.
KitCube’s design features novel green monopropellant propulsion technology and a laser communications payload. With these features, KitCube will be competitive for the lunar derby prize (achieved by successfully entering lunar orbit), as well as the best burst data rate prize. The green monopropellant, AF-M315E, was developed by AFRL, and is a less toxic fuel with a relatively high specific impulse. Meanwhile, the laser communications payload is expected to achieve a data rate of >1.5 Mbps over a 30-minute interval from lunar orbit.
KitCube’s student team is composed of a mix of undergraduate and graduate students at MIT, currently with over 45 active team members. Since GT-1, KitCube has also teamed up with Project Selene, a team of high school students from Pasadena, CA. Science and Technology Corp. (STC), the sponsor of JoSS, is one of KitCube’s sponsors.

February 2016

MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) Student Team is Top Contender in NASA’s CubeQuest Challenge

KitCube is a 6U CubeSat that will demonstrate new communications and propulsion technology, led by students and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with industry and academic partners. KitCube is competing in the NASA CubeQuest Lunar Derby Challenge for a chance to win a launch opportunity on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) on the Space Launch System (SLS). KitCube took 2nd place in the first Ground Tournament (GT-1), and has since partnered with Project Selene, a team of high school students from Pasadena, California, that competed in GT-1.
KitCube is designed to achieve an expected data rate of >1.5 Mbps over a 30-minute interval from lunar orbit. KitCube also serves as a technology demonstration for future miniaturized laser communications payloads, agile, high delta-V propulsion capabilities for CubeSats, and CubeSat missions to lunar orbit. The mission trajectory to achieve lunar orbit is a low energy, bi-elliptic transfer that uses multi-body gravitational effects of the Sun, Earth and Moon to reduce the velocity of KitCube by flying out to 1.7 million kilometers from the Earth, spending several weeks at the external weak stability boundary (WSB), and then falling back toward the Moon to achieve lunar orbit with reduced delta-v requirements. The propulsion system for KitCube uses a green monopropellant, AF-M315E, as a more stable, less-toxic fuel that still has a relatively high specific impulse of 220 s. Thrust will be provided by four 0.5 N thrusters. At the current time, a conservative duty cycle has been assumed for the thrusters of 30 seconds on, 5 minutes off.
KitCube has two separate communications systems, one radio frequency (RF) communications, and one free space optical (lasercom). An X-band radio, paired with the Deep Space Network (DSN), will be the primary operational communications system. KitCube will also have a backup custom, small-form factor UHF radio. The use of an optical communication system drives the need for very fine pointing and control of the spacecraft. KitCube’s attitude determination sensors include two orthogonal star trackers, six sun sensors and an inertial measurement unit (IMU). For attitude control, KitCube will use three reaction wheels, and the four thrusters will be canted towards the center along the y-axis by 2° to enable wheel desaturation and thrust vectoring. The command and data handling hardware will consist of a custom motherboard and three custom interface boards for ADCS, Communications, and Propulsion. All interface boards include Power Distribution Units (PDU’s) to provide power and fault management to the components. Primary power for KitCube will be provided by a deployable two-sided 6U solar panel and body mounted panels on all sides, providing a nominal 40W of power. Secondary power will be provided by three 30 Whr batteries that will provide a nominal power capacity of 90 Whr.
The KitCube team is participating in the second NASA ground tournament, GT-2, in March 2016, and Science and Technology Corporation (STC), the sponsor of JoSS, is one of their sponsors. To see the related crowdfunding website, see

September 2015

KiboCUBE Announced by UNOOSA and JAXA

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and JAXA recently announced the joint initiative “KiboCUBE,” to offer educational and research institutions in developing countries the opportunity to deploy CubeSats from the ISS. Applications may be submitted for this opportunity until March 31, 2016. See more, in the announcement at KiboCUBE Announcement or the press release at KiboCUBE Press Release.

June 2015

Dr. Glenn Lightsey Joins JoSS Board of Editors


E. Glenn Lightsey, Ph.D.

JoSS is pleased to welcome a new Associate Editor-in-Chief on board, with the acceptance of Dr. E. Glenn Lightsey of a five-year term of office in this position beginning in May 2015. Dr. Lightsey joins us as a Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, and has provided invaluable assistance as a JoSS Technical Area Editor (TAE), as well as generating a good share of the articles published in our journal, since its inception. We are delighted to have Dr. Lightsey’s continued contributions in this new role!

January 2014

STC and UMBC Launch NanoSat

Working in collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Science and Technology Corporation (STC) sponsored the development of a 5 cm x 5 cm x 12.7 cm nanosat, “Qubscout-S1”, which was successfully launched to a 616 km orbit on November 21, 2013.
STC fabricated the nanosat frame, while UMBC’s Physics Department students and faculty (under Prof. J. Vanderlei Martins) developed the satellite’s sun sensor for attitude control. Qubscout-S1 was launched into sun-synchronous orbit from a Russian Dnepr LV rocket as a part of its Unisat-5 payload, along with a cluster of 28 other small satellites. After a few months of orbit, the satellite will unfold to increase drag and change its rotation rate. Data from the satellite are downlinked to radio receivers at UMBC, where students will analyze the data from the sun sensors to check their performance.
For inquiries:
STC Contact: Mark Schoeberl – ph 240-481-7390 (

UMBC Contact: Nicole Ruediger – ph 410-455-5791