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        ThinSat Program


Do you want to send a satellite to space?!

Virginia Space, in partnership with Twiggs Space Lab, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility, has created a low cost, short term program that will increase student engagement and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields. This will be achieved by using the ThinSat, a small satellite capable of transmitting data from low earth orbit.

The ThinSat Program sets a new standard for STEM related academics in the space industry.  Students from middle school to the university level will develop satellite hardware, test sensor components with low and high altitude balloon flights, analyze data, and launch an actual payload into space.

 Link to Space Data Dashboard:

sdd.nsldata.com

 

NG-11 Mission

 

After significant investment over the last two years by Virginia Space and program participants, 60 ThinSats and SASSI^2 launched at 4:46 PM on April 17, 2019 as a secondary payload on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.  As of 10:00 AM on April 18, 2019, 49 of the ThinSats carrying standard and custom payloads are transmitting data.   Virginia Space, Twiggs Space Lab, and Near Space Launch are actively working the Space Data Dashboard (SDD) to ensure all schools can view their data.  
 

 

 

      NG-11 Outreach School Satellite Payloads                                 
 
Lead Institue Participating Outreach Schools State Project Title/Topic/Payload Type
Northrop Grumman
Anderson Jr. High School Phoenix, AZ MEDO Payload
Long Branch Elementary Arlington, VA MEDO Payload
Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School Arlington, VA MEDO Payload
NASA Wallops
Wallops - 1 Wallops Island, VA TSL Primary Board + Extension
Wallops - 2 Wallops Island, VA TSL Primary
Chincoteague Combigned School Chincoteague, VA MEDO Payload
Arcadia High School Oak Hall, VA MEDO Payload
NASA - Langley
NOAA
Stall High School Charleston, SC MEDO Payload
Clemson University Clemson, SC MEDO Payload
Mountaineer ThinSat Fairmont, WV MEDO Payload
Sebastian Middle School Jackson, KY MEDO Payload
Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Jr. Academy; Apollo Asheville, NC Horizon Sensing, Particles, IMU usage, IR, Plasa, Temperature
Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Jr. Academy; Startbright Asheville, NC MEDO Payload
Johns Creek Elementary Meta, KY MEDO Payload
West Perry Elementary Hazard, KY MEDO Payload
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA TSL Primary + Extension
Norview High School Norfolk, VA TSL Primary Board
Larchmont Elementary School Norfolk, VA Horizon Sensing, Particles, IMU usage, IR, Plasa, Temperature
Lindenwood Elementary School Norfolk, VA MEDO Payload
William and Mary
College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA TSL Primary Board
Bruton High School Williamsburg, VA MEDO Payload
Renaissance School Charlottesville, VA MEDO Payload
Godwin High School  Richmond, VA MEDO Payload
Warhill High School Williamsburg, VA MEDO Payload
Steward School Richmond, VA MEDO Payload
Virginia Tech
Ibraham MEDO Payload
New River Community College Dublin, VA MEDO Payload
Patrick County Patrick County, VA MEDO Payload
UVA
Western Albemarle High School Crozet, VA MEDO Payload
First FRC Robotics Team 619 Schuyler, VA Camera, Particles, IMU, IR, Plasma, Temp
MESA Albemarle High School Charlottesville, VA MEDO Payload
Piedmont Virginia Community College Charlottesville, VA MEDO Payload
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space Charlottesville, VA MEDO Payload
Charlottesville High School Charlottesville, VA BACON / MEDO Payload
Eastern Shore Community College
Eastern Shore Community College Melfa, VA MEDO Payload
Snow Hill Middle School Snow Hill, MD MEDO Payload
MARS - 1 Wallops Island, VA TSL Primary + Extension
MARS - 2 Wallops Island, VA TSL Primary + Extension
MARS - 3 Wallops Island, VA MEDO Payload
Wise County
Eastside High School Coeburn, VA Horizon Sensing, Particles, IMU usage, IR, Plasa, Temperature
Bland County High School Rocky Gap, VA MEDO Payload
Coeburn Middle School Coeburn, VA MEDO Payload
Lebanon High School Lebanon, VA MEDO Payload
John I Burton High School Norton, VA MEDO Payload
L.F. Addington Middle School Wise, VA MEDO Payload
Washington County Homeschool Leader Abigndon, VA MEDO Payload
St. Paul Elementary St. Paul, VA MEDO Payload
Union Primary School Big Stone Gap, VA MEDO Payload
Twiggs Space Lab
Sphinx Academy  Lexington, KY MEDO Payload
MEDO Space Cape Town, South Africa MEDO Payload
Lexington Catholic High School Lexington, KY MEDO Payload
Seton Catholic School Lexington, KY TSL Primary
Morehead State Unversity Rowan County Senior High School Morehead, KY GPS, Coal Car, Horizon Sensor, Particles, IMU, IR, Plasma, Temp
Morehead State Unversity Rowan County Middle School Morehead, KY GPS, Coal Car, Horizon Sensor, Particles, IMU, IR, Plasma, Temp
Morehead State Unversity McBrayer County Elementary School Morehead, KY GPS, Coal Car, Horizon Sensor, Particles, IMU, IR, Plasma, Temp
Near Space Launch
NearSpace Launch Upland, IN GPS, Horizon Sensoring, IMU, IR, Plasma, Temp
The Weiss School Palm Beach Gardens, FL TSL Primary + Extension
King's Academy Jonesboro, FL MEDO Payload
Wilbur Wright College (CCC) Chicago, IL TSL Primary + Extension
Adler Planetarium Chicago, IL TSL Primary + Extension
Muncie Delaware Robotics Muncie, IN PhyXgears
Taylor University Upland, IN Custom
The Indiana Academy Muncie, IN Custom
US Coast Guard Academy
USCGA - 1 New London, CT Horizon Sensing, GPS, "Coal Car" 3 Batteries, Particles, IMU
usage, IR, Plasa, Temperature
USCGA - 2 New London, CT Horizon Sensing, GPS, "Coal Car" 3 Batteries, Particles, IMU
usage, IR, Plasa, Temperature
USCGA - 3 New London, CT TSL Primary

 

 

ThinSat Program Overview:

  • 12U volume capacity
  • Secondary Payload aboard the Northrop Grumman Antares second stage
  • Deployment at 200-250km
  • Live data transmission using GlobalStar
  • User friendly Space Data Dashboard interface for data storage
  • Low and High Altitude Balloon Test Flights

Key Points:

  • Short-term missions completed in a school year
  • Uses latest technology for satellites
  • Universal satellite design integrated with personalized payload
  • Scientific analysis of the atmosphere                  
  • Approximately 5 days of orbit life
  • No space debris after ThinSat deorbit

 

 

Student Engagment:

Each ThinSat mission spans the length of approximately one school year and incorporates three phases. During these phases, students are introduced to satellite sensors and the engineering iterative process.

Phase 1: Introduction of sensors and development of a sensor-board called the FlatSat. Students conduct flight operations and launch a low-altitude balloon with the FlatSat attached as a data transmitting payload. Students collect and analyze data.

Phase 2:  Students develop a payload representative of the final product and integrate it with a 3D printed Engineering Model of the Thinsat, which will allows for realistic ThinSat testing and verification of data transmission. The Engineering Models are sent to a centralized location for a high altitude balloon flight.

Phase 3: Students use phase 2 data and finalize a payload for flight in orbit. This payload is then sent to Twiggs Space Lab for testing before being integration into a Containerized Satellite Dispenser (CSD) and prepared for launch. The ThinSats are deployed during a Northrop Grumman cargo resupply mission tot he ISS. They are released from the second stage of the Antares rocket into Extreme Low Earth Orbit (ELEO), transmitting data for approximately five days before deorbit and burning upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

ThinSat as a Picosatellite:

This program was developed with the invention of a picosatellite called the ThinSat, which has dimensions of 11.1 x 11.4 x 1.25 cm and a mass of 280g. The program currently has the capacity to deploy up to 84 ThinSats per mission.

The student payload will make up roughly 50% of the ThinSat volume.

 

Anatomy of an Antares Launch

 

Contact: For more information on the ThinSat Program and how your school can develop its own satellite, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.