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WVU’s West Virginia Small Satellite Center Team awarded 2024 Mission Concept University Nanosat Program Grant

West Virginia Press Association

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Small Satellite Center (WVSSC) at West Virginia University (WVU) is among eight teams selected to work with NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and the U.S. military as part of the 2024 Mission Concept University Nanosat Program (UNP). 

Dr. Andrew Rhodes

The team’s principal investigator is Dr. Andrew Rhodes, a WVU Teaching Assistant Professor and  Program Coordinator in the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering. TMC Technologies Senior System Engineer Dr. Mark Suder is the project co-principal investigator. Suder and Rhodes are members of the WVSSC located at the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. 

“We are proud to have been selected to work with NASA and the U.S. military to foster innovation and  expertise in the small satellite sector,” Dr. Rhodes said. “This initiative will offer WVU students  invaluable systems engineering training specific to small satellite spacecraft development.” 

Dr. Scott Zemerick

The WVSSC team’s winning effort, “Advancing WVU Space,” will expand the application of the NASA  Operational Simulator for Small Satellites (NOS3) software, developed for the Simulation-to-Flight 1 (STF-1) small satellite built by TMC Technologies in partnership with the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium at NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Center. STF 1, also known as “West Virginia’s First Spacecraft,” operated at near-peak efficiency for 1,893 days (5  years, two months). On February 21, 2024, it finally de-orbited into Earth’s upper atmosphere.  

“NOS3 proved to be a robust framework for system verification and software mission assurance,” TMC  Technologies Chief Engineer and WVSSC Program Manager Dr. Scott Zemerick said. “Through the WVU  Space initiative, we intend to expand the application of NOS3 to small satellite missions investigating the tracking, characterization, and mitigation of space debris.” 

Dr. David Martinelli

Following a kickoff event at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in May, the WVSSC team will travel to the U.S. Air Force’s University Nanosatellite Program facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico  for two months. 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. 

“This program reflects the importance of educating the next generation of small satellite systems  engineers,” said Dr. David Martinelli, a WVU Research Professor and WVSSC Director. “We are  thankful for the opportunity to showcase the small satellite success happening at WVU and the West  Virginia Small Satellite Center.” 

For more information, please contact John Dahlia, West Virginia Small Satellite Center Outreach  Coordinator, at (304) 276-3161 or by email at [email protected]

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About the West Virginia Small Satellite Center 

The West Virginia Small Satellite Center (WVSSC) is a partnership between West Virginia University  (WVU), West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, and TMC Technologies (TMC). The WVSSC is  dedicated to designing, developing, and operating small satellite missions. Located in Morgantown,  WV, the WVSSC provides a wide range of services to support small satellite missions. The center’s  team of experts works with clients to develop customized small satellite solutions that meet specific  mission requirements and offers training programs to help educate and prepare the next generation  of space professionals. 

About the University Nanosat Program 

Established in 1999, UNP was the first federally funded program dedicated exclusively to university  participation in spacecraft development and nearly 5,000 students from 38 U.S. universities have  participated since its beginning. Remaining true to its founding principle of education, the program  has developed into the premier U.S. small satellite education program. 

Over the years, the program has had 11 cycles of student programs. Lessons learned have been  steadily folded into the program architecture, increasing program success and maximizing the  educational experience.

Feature image caption:

The West Virginia University and West Virginia Small Satellite Center team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during the four-day kickoff event held in May. Along with Principal Investigator Dr. Andrew Rhodes and Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Mark Suder, three WVU students are part of the team. They are Junior Evie Harper, Senior Sam Blair, and Junior Isabella Hart. Left to Right: Dr. Andrew Rhodes, Evie Harper, Sam Blair, Isabella Hart, and Dr. Mark Suder

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