CNS supports local school in successful proposal to build miniature satellite for NASA

  • Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 5:11 pm

The Robertsville Middle School STEM working on the CubeSat project. The Robertsville Middle School STEM working on the CubeSat project.

NASA recently selected Robertsville Middle School’s cube satellite design as one of 11 small research satellites to fly aboard a future space mission. The Robertsville satellite mission was born out of the 2016 Gatlinburg fire and will be designed to monitor forest regrowth, with a base station at the school to communicate with the satellite.

Through the school’s NASA Project-Based Learning course, students worked with NASA engineers, teachers, and community mentors to develop a conceptual design and to 3-D print a mock-up cube satellite frame. One of those mentors is Y-12’s Eric Sampsel, whose daughter Elana is an eighth grader at the Oak Ridge school.

Sampsel helped draft the proposal and worked with the students to take a systems engineering approach to the project. “We talked about how projects are structured, how important communication is between teams, and how to document and track the requirements that they design to,” said Sampsel, a Y-12 program manager.

“It was fun watching the kids interact with engineers from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and have technical conversations with the experts who design satellites for a living,” he said.

For the next phase of the project, students will finalize, build, and test a working model of their design. CNS contributed financial support for the project.