Spaceport Academy

Spaceport Academy

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Sign up for Spaceport Academy to help you explore space, space careers, and satellite missions. Below is a tutorial on how to use the Spaceport Academy platform. 

The following suggested Spaceport topics may be especially helpful in getting familiarized with small satellites and space missions:

  • The New Space Race: Dr. Jose Achache explains the importance of satellites and the new emerging applications that will change the world in the upcoming decades. 
  • Space Experiences: Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut and veteran of two missions to the ISS and one mission onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, talks about his experience in space as an astronaut. 
  • How Did That Happen?: Dr. Rick Fleeter, a satellite designer, entrepreneur, and adjunct associate professor of engineering at Brown University, explains how microsatellites evolved from “toys” to modern space application tools. 
  • Microspace: Dr. Rick Fleeter explains what “microspace” means and how the microsatellite platforms are changing the traditional way of designing and engineering a spacecraft. 
  • Satellite Systems: Professor Paolo Gaudenzi from La Sapienza University talks about the different systems involved in satellite engineering and their interconnections. 

Recommended resources and activities

Learn about CubeSats and CubeSat prototypes

Watch these short NASA videos: “What is a CubeSat?,” How do CubeSats get into orbit?,” and What does a CubeSat do?,” and/or read “What is a CubeSat?” from the Canadian Space Agency for a brief overview of CubeSats. These resources can set the scene for introducing space-ready CubeSats before students begin to explore CubeSat prototypes. 

Familiarize yourselves with the CubeSat prototype diagram, which details the key components of a CubeSat prototype and highlights some of the differences between space-ready CubeSats and CubeSat prototypes.

Read the MIT Media Lab article “Rapid prototyping small satellites” to learn about the benefits and design challenges of CubeSats, and lead students through an activity to rapidly prototype and test subsystems ideas with household objects.

Print and assemble your own 1U CubeSat model using the NASA foldable CubeSat model which contains assembly instructions and an overview of space-ready CubeSat components. The model’s file dimensions are larger than available on most at-home printers, so we recommend you print at 100% scale and cut and paste together the components. 

Define a research objective for the mission

Watch the following videos showcasing different CubeSat mission research objectives:

Facilitate a discussion on mission objectives to generate ideas for your team’s mission, using prompts such as:

  • What are current topics/problems in our local community that interest us? How might our mission explore some of these? 
  • How would we best articulate the central research questions related to the topics/problems that we’d like to answer? 
  • What does our team hope to learn from this mission? Why is this mission important to our team/school/community?

Define a flight method for the mission

View the following resources showcasing different flight methods to begin considering how you will launch their CubeSat prototype: