Home >> News: February 3rd, 2015 >> Story
Satnews Daily
February 3rd, 2015

Student Satellite Build Competition Winners Announced By Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

[SatNews] Students representing 10 universities competed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week for the chance to send a satellite they designed and built into space.

The competition was held through the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate University Nanosat Program.

The winners:

  • 1st place - Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • 2nd place - University of Colorado at Boulder
  • 3rd place - Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 4th place - Taylor University

Boston University and State University of New York at Buffalo tied for 5th place. Judges will break the tie during upcoming visits to both universities where they will conduct a deep dive into their respective programs.

Students from Missouri University of Science and Technology present their first-place winning satellite program at the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate’s University Nanosatellite Program student competition at Kirtland January 17-19.

Each winning school will receive $110,000 from the Air Force Office of Science and Technology, and mission support from AFRL/Space Vehicles to finish preparing their satellites for launch. Now in its eighth cycle, this is the first time multiple winners were selected.

"We are excited that we were able to expand the number of winners from one to five this year, allowing more teams the opportunity to send their satellite to space and, in turn, increasing the scientific and technology benefits of the program," Dr. David Voss, University Nanosat Program manager said. "We had a remarkable field of competitors this year, and we commend the hard-work, passion and professionalism of these young great minds." 

The University Nanosat Program was established in 1999 by AFRL and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research as a way to inspire and train the next generation of space professionals. It is a rigorous two-year concept to flight ready spacecraft competition, and the only program in the country that gives university students the opportunity to actually participate in U.S. spacecraft development. The Approximately 5,000 students from 32 universities have participated in the program and several of their satellites have been sent to space.

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, University of California Los Angeles, University of Florida and New Mexico State University also competed.    

Winning schools and descriptions of projects:

  • Missouri University of Science & Technology, M-SAT (SSA/Prox Ops) - Determine physical characteristics of an Uncooperative Residential Space Object (URSO) by utilizing visible light and infrared images. Estimate and track the trajectory of an URSO. Perform visual-based proximity operations to characterize the physical structure of an URSO.


  • Colorado University at Boulder, PolarCube (Upper Atmospheric Imaging) - PolarCube shall study the Earth's tropospheric temperature patterns in the polar regions and observe the extent of sea ice/open ocean boundaries through atmospheric temperature sounding with the 118.7503 GHz O2 resonance


  • Georgia Institute of Technology, RECONSO (Defensive Space/Prox Ops) - RECONSO's mission is to place a passive optical sensor in a Low Earth Orbit. This sensor will be used to detect and track transient objects within its field of view. The detected objects will be analyzed to generate track information from the optical observations made to help study space debris.


  • Taylor University, ELEO-SAT (SSA/Space Weather Effects) - To study ionospheric structure, temperature, and composition, their effects on VLF transionospheric propagation and the efficiency of VLF-LEP coupling and to open up the F-region for further nano-sat studies


  • Boston University, ANDESITE (Space Weather Effects) - ANDESITE will evaluate a space based - wireless sensor network to examine the spatial and temporal variability of the current density within the region 1 and region 2Birkeland currents through in situ magnetic field measurements.


  • State University of New York at Buffalo, GLADOS (SSA) - Utilize multi-band photometric data of glinting space objects to identify their type, surface materials, and orientation.


Information regarding the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate University Nanosat Program infosite may be viewed at this infopage.