Aviation Week & Space Technology Article on AggieSat2 by Guy Norris, Senior Editor (with permission)

Drive to Discover Article on STARE with LLNL/NPS by Richard Hart (with permission)
LLNL Science & Technology Review April/May 2012 Article on STARE: Tracking Space Debris permission to link by Dr. Vincent Riot, LLNL

Space the Aggie Frontier, The Battalion, 2 December 2014 (with permission),
Tiny Satellites Take Bigger Role in Space, The Battalion, 8 September 2015 (with permission),
Ready for Launch, The Battalion, 1 December 2015 (with permission),
AggieSat4 Launches Successfully, The Battalion, 7 December 2015 (with permission)

Scott Kelly Japanese airlock AggieSat4 release AggieSat4 release

AggieSat Lab Informational Flier
AggieSat Twitter Facebook Flier

AggieSat Lab is on Facebook
AggieSat Lab is on Twitter

AggieSat4 Build-Cam

AggieSat4 on NASA ISS Research and Technology news page (with permission)
AggieSat4 on ISS Twitter (with permission), AggieSat4 on NASA Twitter (with permission)

Our Lab

AggieSat logos

AggieSat Lab is a Student Satellite Program housed within the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. The goal of the Lab is to develop and demonstrate modern technologies by using a small-satellite platform, while educating students and enriching the undergraduate experience. Our Lab takes an integrated approach to small-spacecraft research, design-build-fly, and education for multidisciplinary teams of freshmen through graduate students, along with industry and government affiliates. Students are responsible for the whole design process from concept to end-of-mission. Students simultaneously pursue degrees and participate in a business environment with real-world deliverables, quality-assurance checks, documentation, design and safety reviews, and organization. The goal is for our students to gain hands-on mastery in current tools, systems engineering, and industry practices related to specification, design, analysis, fabrication, and testing of space vehicle systems, while actively applying and extending complementary concepts taught in classes and making critical decisions. The context for this program is in advancing small real satellites, yet the skill set learned is applicable to a wide variety of disciplines and industries.

AggieSat Lab was founded by Dr. Helen Reed, a Professor in the Aerodynamics and Propulsion Group within Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Reed brings 22 years of experience in micro- and nanosatellite design and student programs; and 38 years in hypersonics, boundary-layer stability and transition, and flow control. While at Arizona State, she founded ASUSat Lab in October 1993. That Lab then moved with her to Texas A&M and became AggieSat Lab in March 2005. She has thus far been responsible for the delivery by her students of 2 major satellites launched with the US Air Force and 1 launched by NASA:

• ASUSat1 – 13-pound nanosatellite launched on the inaugural Orbital Suborbital Program Space Launch Vehicle “Minotaur” in January 2000 out of Vandenberg Air Force Base.


• Three Corner Sat – Micro-satellite constellation launched on Delta IV Heavy Demo mission in December 2004 out of Cape Canaveral. Two of three satellites were launched and the third was delivered to the Air and Space Museum.


• LONESTAR Mission 1 (DRAGONSat/AggieSat2) – 5” cubesat released from NASA Space Shuttle STS-127 "Endeavour" on 30 July 2009. AggieSat2 operated on orbit for 230 days, up until de-orbit 17 March 2010.


AggieSat2, Texas A&M’s first free-flying spacecraft, was the first in an ongoing four-mission campaign, named LONESTAR (Low Earth Orbiting Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking), partnering the Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division at NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas at Austin to promote space engineering education as well as research into novel, low-cost autonomous rendezvous and proximity operations techniques. The first three missions build in complexity and test individual components and subsystems while the final mission will culminate with the successful docking of two satellites. The first-mission requirements were to operate the Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver built by NASA JSC called DRAGON (Dual RF Astrodynamic GPS Orbital Navigator). AggieSat2 proved elements that survived long term in orbit; and highlighted areas where there is a need for increased attention to detail and care in documentation, integration and testing, and time management; and our AggieSat Lab is looking forward to applying these lessons learned to future flight programs with the NASA JSC - UT partnership. With its first flight experience completed, the Lab is looking to build experience in attitude control, expanded power, propulsion capability, expanded communications, and other spacecraft infrastructure to complete campaign requirements while continuing to educate students with real flight programs.

AggieSat Team during a AggieSat3 design session

AggieSat Lab is open to all Texas A&M students of U.S. citizenship. Undergraduates and graduate students of all majors, who are interested in a unique opportunity not only to design a satellite, but to build it, deliver it for launch, operate it in space, and accomplish a research objective, can call us at our primary number, (979) 845-2772, or use our Contact Us page listed above.

1st Aggie Ring in Space

1st Aggie ring 1st Aggie ring - Brand

Civil engineering graduate Patrick Brand (’81) became the first to send an Aggie Ring into space when his father, Vance D. Brand, carried it as commander of Space Shuttle Columbia Mission STS-5 in November 1982. The Ring was on board as the shuttle completed 81 orbits –– a distance of 2,110,849 miles. Twenty-five years later, Brand donated his well-traveled Class Ring as a gift to the AggieSat Lab, personally delivering the Ring, logbook, and mission patch of the historic flight. “I felt that the students at A&M would appreciate what it meant and could gain some inspiration from it. It was only logical that it go to the aeronautical engineering department. The time was right to donate it back to where it came from,” Brand says. “Students are still awestruck with the Ring,” says Dr. Helen Reed, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. “And it will be treasured. It serves as an inspiration and reminds us that we can achieve great things.” Brand is executive vice president of Blade Energy Partners, which has been recognized as one of the top 100 Aggie owned and operated companies in the nation.

The Ring resides in the AggieSat Lab and travels with the team including to the launch of AggieSat2 at Kennedy Space Center. The Aggie Ring is one of the most important and well-known of the University’s symbols. Texas A&M students began to receive Class Rings as early as 1889, but the current Ring design dates from 1894. Everything seen on the Ring represents an Aggie value: the large shield symbolizes the desire to protect the reputation of the University; the 13 stripes on the shield represent the 13 original states of America; the five stars on the shield refer to the phases of development of any Aggie – mind, body, spirituality, emotional poise, integrity of character; and the eagle symbolizes agility and power and the ability to reach great heights. The large star on the side of the Ring symbolizes the Seal of Texas, encircled with a wreath of olive and laurel leaves symbolizing achievement and a desire for peace. The live oak leaves symbolize the strength to fight for our country and our state and are encircled by a ribbon showing the necessity of joining these two traits to accomplish one's ambition to serve. An ancient cannon, a saber and a rifle on the other side of the Ring symbolize how citizens of Texas fought for their land and are determined to defend it. The saber stands for valor and confidence, while the rifle and cannon stand for preparedness and defense. The crossed flags of the United States and Texas recognize an Aggie's dual allegiance to both nation and state.

Saturn V Model

Saturn 5

"Remember Robert G. Chilton, Professor Emeritus 1978-1988" adorns the base of the 1:96 scale model of the Saturn V residing at AggieSat Lab. This was one of the original models built by the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center Graphic Engineering and Model Studies Branch. Of the others, one was presented to President John F. Kennedy and one resides at MIT.

College Station Flyover


AggieSat Lab ground station team members took a break from ground station training and practice to watch a beautiful triple pass of the Space Shuttle, Space Station, and Progress Supply vehicles over College Station. This photograph shows Endeavour carrying AggieSat2 and Bevo-1 over College Station on Tuesday 28 July 2009 at about 9:14 p.m. CDT. The International Space Station can also be seen just entering the image at the time the exposure ended. AggieSat Lab members took the opportunity to shout well wishes to the satellite and enjoy the sight of NASA's youngest Orbiter with Aggieland's first satellite in tow. The photograph was taken by lab member Michael Smith with a Nikon D60 at Riverside Ground Station on a 30 second exposure.

News Events

January 31, 2016 - 10:42 am CST

The AggieSat Lab team has been very busy with the following projects:

1) AggieSat4, the 2nd mission in the LONESTAR campaign.  Shipment to Kennedy Space Center took place on 3 November 2015 with launch to the International Space Station (ISS) as soft stowage onboard Orb-4 on 6 December 2015, and release from ISS through the airlock via Cyclops (aka SSIKLOPS: Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems) on 29 January 2016!  AggieSat Lab has its own Facebook page, with many great pictures of the AggieSat4 satellite at multiple stages in the build process. Also see the build process at AggieSat4 Build Cam. Questions and comments regarding the Facebook page can be forwarded to Dexter Becklund (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or Jake Cooper (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), the current creators and maintainers of the page.

2) The team just completed its participation in STARE (Space-based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris), a partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Naval Postgraduate School involving small satellites with optical payloads (STARE). The 1st mission launched on NROL-36 Atlas V on 13 September 2012 from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:39 pm CDT (2139 GMT). The 2nd pathfinder mission launched on ORS 3 Minotaur 1 from Wallops Island on 19 November 2013. AggieSat tasks included high fidelity structural and thermal models for analysis.

3) In July and August 2012, The Aerospace Corporation partnered with AggieSat Lab to place a ground station unit at Texas A&M’s Riverside campus, near the main campus in College Station. This ground station features an articulated 2 meter satellite dish and is networked together with units in California and Florida to provide command and telemetry coverage across the United States. Our goal is to learn to use and support the ground station system. This will be a resource that will contribute to missions, both for AggieSat Lab and The Aerospace Corporation.

Please contact us if you would like to join in on these exciting endeavors, gain valuable experience and skills, and make career contacts.

AggieSat4 has been made possible by a dedicated team of students from various colleges and majors at Texas A&M, and from University of Houston, SUNY Orange, University of Florida, Arizona State University, Wichita State University, and University of Connecticut.

The team has been supported by NASA Johnson Space Center, MEI Technologies, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, The Aerospace Corporation, Air Force Research Laboratory, Sinclair Interplanetary, VectorNav, Boeing, and the Edward “Pete” Aldridge ‘60 Professorship at Texas A&M.

The team is also grateful to the following for their support of our students and our programs:  Mr. Darryl May (AERO ‘84), Mr. David Kanipe (AERO ‘70, MS ‘71), Dr. Helen Reed, Mr. Joseph Perez, Mr. John Graves (AERO ‘07, MS ‘11), Department Head Rodney Bowersox and the Aerospace Engineering Department at Texas A&M, Professor Darren DePoy and Mr. Richard Allen of the Physics & Astronomy Department at Texas A&M, Professor Gregory Huff and his Electromagnetic and Microwave Laboratory team at Texas A&M, Mr. Zane Singleton (AERO, ‘06), Mr. Scott Ritterhouse (Electrical Engineering ‘89), Mr. Robert “Steve” Provence, Mr. Tim Runkle, Mr. Daniel Newswander, Mr. Matthew Hershey, Dr. Will Hafer (AERO PhD ‘14), Ms. Rebecca Marianno, Dr. Kristi Shryock (AERO BS ‘98, MS ‘00, Interdisciplinary Eng PhD ‘11), Dr. David Breeding (TAMU PhD ‘08), Ms. Dianne Kanipe, Mr. Rodney Inmon, Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and Mr. Joshua Hopkins (The Battalion, History/Political Science ‘17).

Here are some recent events:

**30 January 2016. Here are the TLE for LONESTAR/AggieSat4:


1 41313U 98067HP 16031.42965029 .00016420 00000-0 25177-3 0 9998

2 41313 51.6448 25.0185 0006807 60.9521 299.2173 15.54438443   269

We have made contact from our ground station and are receiving beacon packets of state-of-health both locally and from around the world, all showing we are strong and functioning. The students continue to work very hard from the Lab.

**29 January 2016. AggieSat Lab students (Mr. Dexter Becklund, Mr. David Alfani, Mr. Hyder Hasan, Mr. Andy Holm, Mr. Mitchel McDonald, Mr. Sig Salinas, Mr. Robert Singletary, Mr. Andrew Tucker) and Dr. Helen Reed travelled to NASA JSC to Bldg 30/MER very early Friday morning 29 January 2016 for AggieSat4 unpacking, assembly, and insertion into the Japanese airlock on the ISS.  Two AggieSat students (Mr. Dexter Becklund, Mr. Andrew Tucker) sat on console in Mission Control to assist the ISS crew. At 9:55 am CST, AggieSat4 was released from the International Space Station:

AggieSat4 release AggieSat4 release

**27 January 2016. AggieSat Lab students (Mr. Adelin Destain, Mr. Dexter Becklund, Mr. Ryan Campbell, Mr. Jake Cooper, Mr. Daniel Ghan, Ms. Michelle Gilbert, Mr. Hyder Hasan, Mr. Alex Hutson, Mr. Robert Singletary, Mr. Andrew Tucker) and Dr. Helen Reed travelled to NASA JSC to Bldg 30/MER very early Wednesday morning 27 January 2016 (arrived 2 am CST) for AggieSat4 unpacking, assembly, and insertion into the Japanese airlock on the ISS.  Two AggieSat students (Mr. Dexter Becklund, Mr. Andrew Tucker) sat on console in Mission Control to assist the ISS crew.

Scott Kelly Japanese airlock

We were honored for ISS crew members Scott Kelly and Tim Peake to perform the operations. Scott Kelly posted on his social media: https://twitter.com/aggiesat/status/692439004793434112  Here. are what we have found so far:

Tim Peake’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/astro_timpeake/status/692700506247004160

Tim Kopra’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/astro_tim/status/692496829091569664

Scott Kelly’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/692439004793434112

SK’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBDmlupAXsX/?taken-by=stationcdrkelly

SK’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/131376260352637/photos/a.151275548362708.34013.131376260352637/574674392689486/?type=3&theater

NASA FB: https://www.facebook.com/NASA/photos/a.67899501771.69169.54971236771/10153811575501772/?type=3&theater

NASA Twitter: https://twitter.com/NASA/status/692497682695323648

ISS Twitter: https://twitter.com/Space_Station/status/692401916635123712

ISS Research Twitter: https://twitter.com/ISS_Research/status/692405814909407232

ESA Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EuropeanSpaceAgency/photos/a.380701205666.166436.54912575666/10153292536690667/?type=3&theater

And each of those posts has upwards of 100-500 shares and 2000-4000 likes, Scott Kelly’s instagram picture has about 18,800 likes.

Very early Friday morning 29 January 2016, we will travel back to Bldg 30/MER at JSC for AggieSat4 release from ISS.  We were asked to be there by 3 am CST and the release would be around 10-10:30 am CST, I believe, and should be available on NASA webcast.

**24 January 2016. AggieSat4 is on schedule for release from ISS on 29 January 2016.  Here is the finalized schedule of LONESTAR operations, which should be broadcast on NASA TV webcast. All times are Central Standard Time.

Wednesday 27 January:

02:20 – 02:50, Cyclops Overview

02:50 – 03:05, JEM Slide Table extend IVA

03:05 – 05:05, Cyclops/Lonestar install

05:05 – 05:20, JEM Slide Table retract to Airlock

(JAXA moving JRMS and picking up SFA from 19:00 CST – 06:10 CST on Thurs, 28 Jan)

Thursday 28 January:

(06:10 – 06:20, JEM Slide Table extend outside)

(23:50 – 00:00, JRMS pre-motion survey)

Friday, 29 January:

00:00 – 01:15, JEM system activation activities

01:15 – 01:25, file and camera setup for activities

02:15 – 02:35, JRMS/SFA maneuver to SFA Hover position

02:40 – 03:00, SFA maneuver to TF1 access

03:00 – 05:30, SFA Cyclops grapple and setup for A/L ops

05:30 – 05:45, crew activation of JEM Airlock AM

06:00 – 06:30, SFA Cyclops Unberth

06:30 – 07:00, SFA maneuver to hover

07:00 – 07:30, JRMS maneuver to deploy park

07:45 – 08:15, SFA maneuver to deploy position

08:15 – 08:25, crew retraction of JEM airlock

08:25 – 08:40, Cyclops deploy prep

10:10 – 10:25, Cyclops deploy<-- constrained by daylight and Ku AOS although it looks like there is enough daylight/KU right after the prep

AggieSat team members (Adelin Destain, David Alfano, Dexter Becklund, Ryan Campbell, Jake Cooper, Daniel Ghan, Michelle Gilbert, Hyder Hasan, Andy Holm, Alex Hutson, Mitchel McDonald, Sig Salinas, Robert Singletary, Andrew Tucker) and Dr. Reed will be at NASA JSC for the indicated operations on both Wednesday early morning and Friday early morning. Mr. Dexter Becklund and Mr. Andrew Tucker will sit on console in Mission Control to assist the astronauts with unpacking, assembly, procedures, and any queries.

AggieSat4 will beacon once approximately every 60 seconds digital state of health data at 436.25 MHz.  Please let us know at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you make contact and can share what you receive.  We would be most happy to communicate with you to interpret the data you collected.

All data types are little endian.

AGS4 Beacon Bit Order

Name                               # of bits   Type

Callsign                             1st 48     string       WH2XGN

Total 768 bits (96 bytes)

***January 9, 2016.  Plans are firming up for deploying LONESTAR at the end of the month.  We have the honor of Scott Kelly performing the LONESTAR/CYCLOPS installation. The installation of AggieSat4 on the slide table will be Wednesday 27 January, and deployment from ISS will be Friday 29 January.

***December 22, 2015.  AggieSat4’s release date from ISS is presently set for the week of January 25th, with the possibility of February due to the unscheduled EVA a couple of days ago.  Team members are busy preparing for operations. Happy Holidays to all!”

***December 9, 2015.  “I wanted to pass my congratulations to the team for AggieSat4 and Bevo’s arrival to ISS. My friend Ben Martin from the University of Texas supported rendezvous in the backroom earlier this morning, I am in the control center backroom now helping with all the mating and hatch operations for Cygnus. Right now on internet streaming of NASA TV you might be able to see the crew working around the Cygnus hatch. My understanding is that cargo ops won’t start till tomorrow.  Welcome aboard!”  -John Graves (AERO ‘07, MS ‘11, Prior AggieSat Lab Manager), CRONUS Operator, CI23, Spaceflight Systems Division, FOD, Cimarron Inc., 4S,2906B

***December 9, 2015.  Orbital ATK Press Release: Cygnus successfully berths with International Space Station.  Orbital ATK, Inc. announced that the “S.S. Deke Slayton II” Cygnus spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and berthing procedures with the International Space Station (ISS). This is the company’s fourth successful berthing with the orbiting laboratory, and the third under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.  Cygnus was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on 6 December from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Over the past several days, it completed a series of thruster firings and other manoeuvres bringing the spacecraft in close proximity to the ISS. Final approach to the Station began at about 1000 UTC, culminating with Expedition 45 crew members grappling Cygnus with the Station’s robotic arm at 1119 UTC when it was approximately 9 m from the ISS. Cygnus was then guided to its berthing port on the nadir side of the Unity module of the ISS where its installation was completed at 1426 UTC.  “This mission featured the debut of our enhanced Cygnus, which allowed us to transport approximately 7,700 pounds, or 3,500 kilograms, of essential supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to the astronauts on board the ISS,” said Frank Culbertson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group. “That represents a more than 50% increase in capacity over the previous Cygnus model.”  Cygnus will remain berthed at the ISS for approximately 50 days before departing with approximately 2,300 kilograms of disposable cargo for a safe, destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean.

***December 6, 2015: On the 4th attempt in 4 days because of bad weather, OA-4 blasted off with AggieSat4/Bevo-2 onboard!  It was a perfect launch!

***November 3, 2015: The Lonestar-2 payload consisting of both AggieSat4 and Bevo-2 was shipped to Kennedy Space Center today!

***A build-cam in AggieSat Lab captured AggieSat4 in the making. Click here.

***October 14, 2015: The Lonestar-2 payload consisting of both AggieSat4 and Bevo-2 was delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The delivery process was handled by Lockheed Martin through their Cargo Mission Contract (CMC) which allows them to process everything from food, tools, spacesuits, and small satellites going up to the International Space Station. While at the Lockheed Martin facility the AggieSat team applied decals to the satellite to assist ISS astronauts when they prepare Lonestar-2 for launch. The team also performed a fit check of a new foam clamshell for the satellite that will house it during launch. Even though Lonestar-2 has left campus, there is much work to be done. November 3 is AggieSat Lab’s and TSL’s (Texas Satellite Lab’s) deadline for all code, simulations, and paperwork to be submitted and both teams are hard at work to ensure this deadline is met.

***July 21, 2015: AggieSat4 passed its Phase III Safety Review. Mr. Andrew Tucker and Mr. Adelin Destain traveled to Houston for the review while other team members participated by webex from AggieSat Lab.

The 50-kg, 2’X2’X1’ AggieSat4 is planned for launch this Fall 2015 to the International Space Station as soft stowage aboard Orbital Sciences CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) Orb-4 from Cape Canaveral, and then released into orbit by astronauts out the Japanese airlock via Cyclops (aka SSIKLOPS: Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems). AggieSat Lab students will communicate with and operate AggieSat4 from a ground station at the Riverside campus.

This will be Texas A&M’s second satellite launched under the Lonestar Program which partners Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin (UT), and NASA JSC in the development and demonstration of technologies for autonomous rendezvous and docking. The first mission, AggieSat2, was released from Space Shuttle STS-127 and operated for 240 days from 20 minutes after release to 4 hours before burn-up in the atmosphere.

AggieSat4 carries Bevo-2, UT’s spacecraft, internally. Once AggieSat4 is released from ISS and stabilizes itself, AggieSat4 will then release, track, point at, image, and crosslink relative navigation solutions with Bevo-2.

Any individuals or groups interested in seeing the satellite (prior to its launch) at AggieSat Lab are invited to contact Dr. Helen Reed (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

***On July 17, 2015 AggieSat Lab members hosted Mr. Darryl May and members of the ISS crew office for the HFIT (Human Factors Implementation Team) review. Discussed was the best order of events for the crew procedure in “unpacking and assembling” AggieSat4 on the ISS. The operations were performed so they got a feel for the process (antennas, inhibit key, solar covers, foam, and so forth).

Also tested was whether AggieSat4 had any sharp corners or points potentially endangering the astronauts. There were only a few sharp points, all where some glue had oozed out from the solar panel covers during construction. AggieSat members touched up those spots with some sandpaper, and then AggieSat4 was approved as snag free.

***On July 15, 2015 AggieSat Lab members gave a lab tour to high school students participating in Aerospace Engineering’s Camp Soar.

***June 17, 2015: AggieSat Lab successfully passed a major milestone on Wednesday 17 June 2015. Five student team members (Mr. Andrew Tucker, Mr. Adelin Destain, Mr. Robert Singletary, Mr. Jake Cooper, and Mr. Daniel Mullen) and Faculty Advisor and Founder, Dr. Helen Reed, travelled to NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) for random-vibration testing of AggieSat4. Testing was conducted along each of the three spacecraft axes for one minute each at SpaceX baseline plus 3dB launch levels. The NASA Program Manager is Mr. Darryl May (AERO ‘84), the Safety Lead is Mr. Zane Singleton (MEIT, AERO ‘06), and the test lead was Mr. Carl Lauritzen (Jacobs, AERO ’78). The spacecraft functioned flawlessly after each phase of the test. The 50-kg, 2’X2’X1’ AggieSat4 is planned for launch this Fall 2015 to the International Space Station as soft stowage aboard Orbital Sciences CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) Orb-4 from Cape Canaveral, and then released into orbit by astronauts out the Japanese airlock via Cyclops (aka SSIKLOPS: Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems). AggieSat Lab students will communicate with and operate AggieSat4 from a ground station at the Riverside campus.

***March 11, 2015: AggieSat4’s Test Readiness Review with NASA Johnson Space Center was held today in preparation for system vibrational testing at JSC beginning next week.

***March 10, 2015: The AggieSat4 team recently finished installing the Attitude Control and Determination System on AggieSat4, including a large torque coil, reaction wheel, and sun sensor. At this point, everything is installed on the satellite besides antennas - which are actually installed after AggieSat4 in unpacked on the International Space Station - and solar panels. Just under a week remains until the delivery of AggieSat4 to the Johnson Space Center!

***March 6, 2015: This past week at AggieSat, we have moved onto Phase II of our satellite build, meaning the satellite is completely folded up except for the top panel. Now we have to install the last remaining components on the top panel, button up the whole satellite and install solar panels!

***February 28, 2015: Yesterday, Mr. Darryl May, our Program Manager from NASA Johnson Space Center, visited and reviewed our progress on AggieSat4 to ensure we are on time for the vibration test in mid-March. This past week, the team successfully installed the Attitude Determination System on AggieSat4, including sun sensors, interface board, a gyroscope/magnetometer from VectorNav, and the NASA DRAGON GPS board. The past week was also busy with Electrical Power System (EPS) tests, conformal coating and staking boards, programming, and installation and harnessing. Our EPS routes power to 24 different locations from the two battery boxes (which were also installed) and charges the batteries using the 13 solar panels we will have on the final satellite. It also has built in hazard control, voltage regulation, and more.

***Mr. Adelin Destain has accepted the position as the new Project Manager for AggieSat4 as of the last week of February 2015.  The whole AggieSat Lab team is indebted to Mr. Andrew Shell for his leadership, ingenuity, and diligence with the program!  Andrew will graduate in May 2015.  Thank you, Andrew, and welcome, Adelin!!

***February 15, 2015: During our lab-wide Saturday meeting we were able to complete more solar panels as well as successfully install some of our Attitude Control System (ACS) components, including two of the three reaction wheels that we tested last week, one sun sensor (the rest will be installed in the coming days), and three hysteresis rods.

***February 9, 2015: Over the weekend we achieved two major milestones for AggieSat4. The first was the successful 10-hour-long burn-in test of the flight reaction wheels and the second was the completion of the first three flight solar panels. In total, AggieSat4 has 234 UTJ solar cells from SpectroLab that are dispersed across 13 panels on the satellite. Each one of these panels takes about three to four hours to complete.

***January 25, 2015: The first week of the new semester saw much progress at the Lab. All of the radio and communication components of the AggieSat4 satellite have been installed! Next on the to-do list for our Ags is to install some of the most sensitive components on the satellite, including the reaction wheels after the completion of a 10 hour burn-in test.

***January 19, 2015: Over winter break, dedicated students worked hard to install two crucial components on the satellite, the torque coils and the cross-link radio. The torque coils are used to orient the satellite while it is on orbit. By powering these coils of copper wire, they interact with Earth’s magnetic field and a torque is applied to them, thus rotating the satellite. The cross-link radio is what will be used to communicate with the Texas Spacecraft Laboratory’s Bevo-2 satellite on orbit.

***December 14, 2015: The students have been making steady progress on the assembly of the satellite. All of the major structural components for the assembly jig, the NASA-designed SSIKLOPS launching system, the main computer system (the CDH stack), and The Aerospace Corporation 2MP camera (to take pictures of Bevo-2 upon its release from AggieSat4) have all been installed!

***AggieSat Lab has its own Facebook page. It has many great pictures of the AggieSat4 satellite at multiple stages in the build process. You can find the page at: AggieSat Lab Facebook. Questions and comments regarding the Facebook page can be forwarded to Dexter Becklund (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), the current creator and maintainer of the page.

***AggieSat Lab extends its congratulations to ESA’s Philae/Rosetta team for the historic and very challenging 1st landing on a comet (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) on 12 November 2014. Thank you for the inspiration!  It was awesome!

***The team successfully completed a fitcheck between AggieSat4 and SSIKLOPS on 10 October 2014 at NASA Johnson Space Center.

***The team is progressing with the integration of AggieSat4.  Here is a prototype of the solar panels built by the students.


***Here is a SolidWorks simulation of AggieSat4 on orbit, courtesy of Andrew Shell. NASA is preparing the mission patch for Cyclops.


***The AggieSat4 team had a very busy and productive Spring 2014. Over the Summer 2014, many of the team members are participating in some incredible internship experiences out in the profession. Back in the Lab, the team is in the process of interfacing with the NASA JSC Cyclops team for some last minute design changes to the interfacing, completing third-party battery testing, and assembling and testing AggieSat4. The Lab is very excited about Mr. Emery Annis and Mr. Brian McNeil joining from the University of Houston, and about Mr. Daanish Zaidi’s continued participation from the University of Connecticut; each is making invaluable contributions to the success of AggieSat4.

*** On 29 May 2014, Mr. William Hafer successfully defended his PhD dissertation entitled “Sensitivity Methods Applied to Orbital Pursuit-Evasion”.  Congratulations, Will!

***On 28 March 2014, the team travelled to NASA JSC for a successful fitcheck of AggieSat4 with the qual unit for the NASA JSC Cyclops release mechanism. The Cyclops flight hardware is scheduled to be delivered to the International Space Station on SpaceX4 and we are planned to go up to ISS as soft-stow on SpaceX5, with release from Cyclops into orbit through the Japanese airlock. In the below picture are [left to right]: David Aly, Sig Salinas, Andrew Tucker (MS student, AggieSat Lab Chief Engineer, back row), Mitchel McDonald (front row), Andrew Shell (AggieSat4 Project Manager, back row), Michelle Gilbert (front row), James Felderhoff, Maura Cadigan, Robert Singletary.


***On 7 March 2014, the AggieSat Lab team and Dr. Reed’s Computational Stability and Transition team were privileged to host NASA JSC Flight Director Ed Van Cise and NASA Astronaut Greg Chamitoff for a tour at the Munnerlyn Building.

VanCise VanCise

***The AggieSat4 team has a very busy and productive Summer and Fall 2013, and Spring 2014. Over the Summer 2013, many of the team members participated in some incredible internship experiences out in the profession and Ph.D. candidate Mr. Will Hafer was selected as a prestigious Space Scholar by AFRL at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. Over the Summer, the team was very fortunate to host Mr. Bryan Sonneveldt (Arizona State University), Mr. Cesar Santoyo (University of Florida), and Mr. Craig Wilkinson (Wichita State University) as USRG recipients, and Mr. Daanish Zaidi (University of Connecticut), and each made invaluable contributions to AggieSat4.

***The AggieSat4 team completed its Phase II Safety Review at Regents’ Park in Houston on 19-20 February 2013. . The students and Dr. Reed are grateful to NASA JSC and its contractors who are helping make launching AggieSat4 a reality.

***Everyone at AggieSat Lab wishes Lab Manager John Graves and his family the very best as they move to Houston. On 14 January 2013, John begins his new job at QTS (Qualified Technical Services), which is under contract with USA and in charge of many of the positions in flight control for USA and NASA. John will be a Communications Radio frequency and On-orbit Network Utilization Specialist (CRONUS) flight controller for the International Space Station. For John this is an opportunity to work the human spaceflight side of the business which has always been his career passion. We are all very proud of John and will greatly miss him!.

*** The AggieSat4 team, led by Electrical and Data Systems Lead Robert Singletary, presented at and successfully passed the Software Review with the Computer Safety Panel at NASA JSC on 9 January 2013.

*** Today is 6 December 2012. Consider what you were doing in 2009 and how long ago that was. Consider that AggieSat2 was launched the week of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 that year (1 day ahead of the launch anniversary to be exact). That amount of time from then to now, that feeling of time passage, is how long the manned flights to the moon lasted in history (1969-1972). Apollo 17 launched a little after midnight tonight (12:33 am EST on 7 December, just into Pearl Harbor Day) and splashed down on 19 December 1972.

*** On 5 December 2012, AggieSat4 Electrical and Data Systems subsystem member, Mark Baker, was awarded the Stan H. Lowy prize.  Lowy, professor emeritus of Aerospace Engineering, endowed the award, which is presented to a student design team (airplane track) and an individual student (satellite track) in senior capstone design course AERO 402 for innovation, technical expertise, and teamwork. Mark participated in the satellite capstone track AggieSatX under the direction of David Kanipe. Congratulations to Mark!

*** On 30 October 2012, the AggieSat Lab team hosted the Critical Design Review for a payload to be tested on AggieSat4. The visitors included: Perry Ballard (USAF), Carolynn Conley (MEIT), Nathan Harnagel (USAF), Craig Lamb (USAF), James McLeroy (The Aerospace Corporation), Erik Mumm (Honeybee), Zane Singleton (MEIT), and Capt. Brent Suerdieck (USAF). Participating by WebEx were: Darryl May (LONESTAR Program Manager, NASA JSC), Scott Ritterhouse (MEIT), Dr. Fred Leve (AFRL PM), Bill Lopez.


***On 28 September 2012, the AggieSat team was truly honored to have the opportunity to enjoy a presentation by Captain James “Jim” Lovell, Astronaut & Commander of the Apollo 13 Mission. Captain Lovell was on campus to present the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation award to senior aerospace engineering student Emily Boster. Captain Lovell gave public remarks on the theme “Being Committed to Succeed” as part of the ceremony, with a brief Q&A scheduled afterward, in Rudder Theatre.

Lovell Lovell

***On 20 September 2012, the AggieSat4 team participated in its Phase 0/I Safety Review in Houston. The students are grateful for the opportunity to be launched to and released from the International Space Station and for the input from NASA JSC and its contractors to help make this a reality.

***”Farewell, Endeavour, and we thank you. She was a good ship.”  As part of NASA’s plan for delivering retired Space Shuttle Endeavour to its permanent home in California, the orbiter flew on the back of a Boeing 747 and made stops along the way across the country. Included on the route was a visit to Ellington Field 19-20 September 2012. Friends at NASA JSC put banners out for signing as a way to say goodbye to Space Shuttle Endeavour. Becky Sewell made it a point to make sure Endeavour got a thank you from all of us at AggieSat Lab!


After graduating in May 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering, AggieSat Lab Member, Becky Sewell, was hired by United Space Alliance (USA), contractor for NASA-JSC, as part of the ISS Operator Class 6 (OC-6). She is part of the Motion Control Systems Branch and will become a Mission Control Center operator for the ADCO group. ADCO’s, or Attitude Determination and Control Officers, are responsible for the ADC systems onboard the ISS. This includes everything from basic monitoring of the systems, executing docking/undocking maneuvers with Soyuz, Progress, and other spacecraft, to safing the system in the event of an emergency.  She will be involved in a 12-18 month training process before being certified to work on console in ISS Mission Control Center, Houston. Certification will consist of detailed classroom studies, console training, and integrated simulations.

*** On Thursday 13 September 2012 at 4:39 pm CDT (2139 GMT), NROL-36, an Atlas-5 carrying a classified spacecraft and 11 other small satellites, was successfully launched out of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Four of these other satellites are flying through NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite program that works with schools to give students real-life experience in the space business. Institutions launching CubeSats are the University of California Berkeley, University of Colorado at Boulder, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Morehead State.

In addition, the NRO’s Mission Support Directorate is enabling 7 satellites to fly from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, The Aerospace Corporation, the University of Southern California, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Among these 7 small satellites are 4 that Texas A&M’s AggieSat Lab has supported directly and indirectly. Three of them are built by The Aerospace Corporation and will use the new ground station unit many of our AggieSat Lab students helped install these past two months at the Riverside campus of Texas A&M University, near the main campus in College Station.  This ground station features an articulated 2 meter satellite dish and will be networked together with units in California and Florida to provide command and telemetry coverage across the United States. In the coming weeks and months our goal is to learn to use and support the ground station system. This will be a resource that will contribute to this mission and future missions, both for AggieSat Lab and The Aerospace Corporation.

The 4th small satellite, part of the STARE program with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Naval Post Graduate School, is one AggieSat Lab has supported via detailed structural and thermal analyses and integration support.

*** Dr. Gregory Chamitoff,  NASA Astronaut - Johnson Space Center and Adjunct Faculty in our Aerospace Engineering Department, visited AggieSat Lab on Friday 31 August 2012 from 0930-1000. He then delivered a lecture on ‘Completing Assembly of the International Space Station - The Last Mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour’ from 1040-Noon in Room 202 of Reed-McDonald.  In 1995, Dr. Chamitoff joined Mission Operations at the Johnson Space Center and was selected as an Astronaut Candidate by NASA in 1998. In 2008, he served as the Flight Engineer and Science Officer for a 6-month mission aboard the International Space Station. In 2011, he served as a Mission Specialist on the last flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour. Dr. Chamitoff also performed two spacewalks and he has logged more than 198 days in space.

Since AggieSat4 is to be delivered to and released from ISS, Dr. Chamitoff shared his experiences with AggieSat Lab students related to the packaging and handling of payloads on ISS from an astronaut’s standpoint. The students got several helpful tips and Dr. Chamitoff has agreed to help our students as future questions arise.

Astronaut Chamitoff

*** On 13 August 2012, AggieSat4 team members Will Hafer, Angela McLelland, Brittney Flaherty, Andrew Shell, Chris Cederberg, Mark Baker, and Gerald Fischer visited NASA JSC for invaluable DRAGON GPS training by Mr. Steve Provence and Mr. Tim Runkle.

*** On 2 August 2012, a launch attempt was made from Vandenberg AFB (California) from Space Launch Complex SLC-3E of NROL-36, an Atlas-5 carrying a classified spacecraft and 11 other small satellites. Dr. Helen Reed attended the launch attempt.  Western Range Operations Control Center safety personnel identified an issue in the Mission Flight Control Center, and the launch of NROL-36 was postponed.  We will be continuing to work and test out The Aerospace Corporation ground site unit at Riverside and supporting our LLNL and NPS partners.See the later news entry for 13 September 2012.

*** On 1 August 2012, the AggieSat4 team participated in a NASA web-ex on JSSOD lessons learned related to our LONESTAR project. JSSOD is the JAXA small satellite deployment system that just arrived at ISS with the docking of the HTV-3. SSIKLOPS is the “Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems” from which AggieSat4 will be released from ISS.

*** On 28 July 2012, AggieSat students Hyder Hasan, Andrew Tucker, Robert Singletary, and Austin Probe visited the University of Texas at Austin to conduct successful crosslink tests between AggieSat4 and Bevo-2.

*** The Aerospace Engineering Department at Texas A&M hosted its first annual summer camp 22-27 July 2012 for 30 high school students. During Camp SOAR, the students worked on a variety of design projects and visiting various labs. AggieSat Lab students hosted 2 sessions on Thursday 26 July at 9 am and at 12 pm.

*** On 23 July 2012, LONESTAR Project Manager Mr. Darryl May (NASA Johnson Space Center) and LONESTAR Safety Manager Mr. Zane Singleton (MEIT) visited AggieSat Lab for a Mission Safety Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM).

*** On 10 July 2012, AggieSat Lab members were honored to host Dr. K.R. Sreenivasan for a visit to the Lab. Dr. Sreenivasan is Senior Vice Provost for Science/Technology for the Global Network University and Provost at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), and the African Academy of Sciences. An active researcher, he studies turbulence, complex fluids, cryogenic helium, and nonlinear dynamics, and is University Professor at NYU, with joint appointments in Physics and Mathematics. Welcome, Dr. Sreenivasan!

KR Sreenivasan

*** On 21 June 2012, Lab Manager John Graves and his wife Bethany became the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl named Adelyn Elise Graves. Everyone at Aggiesat Lab extends his/her best wishes and congratulations to the Graves family!

*** On 19 June 2012, Colonel Kenneth Allison ‘85, Commander and Professor of Aerospace Studies, Air Force ROTC, Detachment 805, Texas A&M University, visited AggieSat Lab for a briefing and tour, and the students were very interested to learn of his career experiences and thoughts for the future. Accompanying him on this visit were Lt. Col. Chris Cantrell, Deputy Commander, AFROTC Detachment 805 and a weather officer by background, and Lt. Col. Aaron Tucker, Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Helen Reed’s direction in Aerospace Engineering.

Colonel Allison

*** On 4 June 2012, Ms. Brittney Flaherty joined our Lab for the summer to learn to build a satellite and help with AggieSat4.  She comes from SUNY Orange in Middletown, NY. Welcome, Brittney!

*** On 14 May 2012, AggieSat Lab team members Hyder Hasan, Steven Anderson, Andrew Shell, and Andrew Tucker were invited to visit College Station Middle School. They talked to 6 different class periods about space exploration and answered student questions.

*** On 10 May 2012, AggieSat Lab hosted several visitors: Perry Ballard (USAF), Craig Lamb (USAF), Erik Mumm (Honeybee), Fred Leve (AFRL TORC PM), Capt. Brent Suerdieck (USAF), Zane Singleton (MEIT), David Voss (AFRL University Nanosat Program Director), James McLeroy (Aerospace Corporation).  Discussions focused on AggieSat4.


*** On 2 May 2012, it was announced that Sigma Gamma Tau (SGT), the national aerospace engineering honor society, has awarded Texas A&M student (and AggieSat Member) Steven Anderson with the 2012 Southwest Region Award. Formed in 1957, SGT seeks to identify and recognize achievement and excellence in the aerospace field. This prestigious award honors Steven as being one of the top seven outstanding Aerospace Engineering seniors in the United States, based upon his academic, service, and extracurricular accomplishments.

*** Texas A&M Sigma Gamma Tau President (and AggieSat Member), Austin Probe, presented Dr. Helen Reed with the 2012 Thomas U. McElmurry Teaching Excellence Award at the AIAA Banquet on 2 May 2012.

*** On 8 March 2012, Mr. William Hafer successfully defended his Masters thesis entitled “Improvements of PnP problem computational efficiency for known target geometry of cubesats”.  Will is a Graduate Lab Manager and intends to complete his PhD with the program.  Congratulations, Will!

Will Hafer MS

*** On 14 November 2011, the AggieSat4 team and the Bevo-2 team travelled to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston TX to present their Critical Design Review. The Aggies thank NASA JSC Program Manager Darryl May, area experts, and contractors for this opportunity. Delivery is planned for 31 August 2012 with launch in January 2013.

Risk Assessment

*** On 3 November 2011,  the AggieSat4 team and the University of Texas Bevo-2 team participated by WebEx in their Phase 0/1 Safety Review as the next milestone in the LONESTAR Mission 2 campaign. The Aggies thank NASA JSC Program Manager Darryl May, the Safety Review Board, area experts, and contractors for this opportunity. Next up is preparation for the Critical Design Review on 14 November 2011 at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Launch is planned for January 2013 with release from the International Space Station into low Earth orbit.

*** John Graves successfully completed his MS defense on 4 October 2011. His thesis topic was “Small Satellite Applications of Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits”. He is presently the Lab Manager of AggieSat Lab.

John Graves MS defense

*** On 6 September 2011, the AggieSat4 team participated in a WebEx on Risk Assessment with Jeevan Perera of NASA Johnson Space Center.

Risk Assessment

*** Everyone at Aggiesat Lab wishes Joe Perez and his family the very best as they move to Albuquerque. In September 2011, Joe begins his new job at ATA.  Thanks for everything, Joe!  We all will greatly miss you!.

Joe Perez