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NASA Selects Eight University Teams for 2024 CubeSat Development Program
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NASA Selects Eight University Teams for 2024 CubeSat Development Program
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 01, 2024

In a significant move to foster innovation and expertise in the small satellite sector, NASA, alongside the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, has announced the selection of eight university teams for the 2024 Mission Concept Program. This summer program, spanning from May through August, is designed to refine small satellite project proposals from university teams, enhancing their chances of sending their technology to space and potentially kick-starting the students' careers in the aerospace industry.

The CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) program, which is at the heart of this collaboration, will offer participating students invaluable systems engineering training specific to spacecraft development. The aim is to not only prepare these students for future careers in the space sector but also to increase the level of small satellite development knowledge among faculty at participating U.S. universities.

Out of 34 applications, the selection was made by a diverse panel of experts from NASA, the Air Force, and their contractors, focusing on criteria such as educational impact, the potential for university program development, minority outreach and support, and alignment with the strategic interests of NASA or the Department of Defense. Notably, three of the selected institutions - University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, and Tarleton State University - are recognized as Minority Serving Institutions, underscoring the program's commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

The selected universities for this year's program are:

- University of Central Florida, Orlando
- University of Mississippi, Oxford
- Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton
- University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
- Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana
- Northeastern University, Boston
- West Virginia University, Morgantown
- Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas

These teams are scheduled to convene at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a four-day orientation session in May. Following this, they will spend seven weeks at the Air Force's University Nanosatellite Program facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During their time in Albuquerque, three students from each team will intern with the Space Dynamics Laboratory, receiving direct mentorship and guidance from small satellite experts to refine their proposals and enhance their project's viability for spaceflight under NASA's CSLI or Air Force nanosatellite launch opportunities.

The program culminates in final presentations held in Albuquerque, with participants also encouraged to attend the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah, in August. Future flight opportunities for 2025 will be determined based on these presentations.

Significantly, the 2024 Mission Concept Program covers all associated travel expenses, alleviating financial burdens on the participating universities and facilitating a focus on innovation and team building. This initiative is part of NASA's broader strategy to engage and retain students in STEM fields, thus building a robust pipeline of talent for NASA and the broader aerospace sector. For further details on NASA's CSLI, visit here.

Related Links
CubeSat Launch Initiative at NASA
Microsat News and Nanosat News at SpaceMart.com

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