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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics


Cooperative Satellite Learning Project

The Cooperative Satellite Learning Project is a partnership in education between Honeywell Technologies, and NASA It is a joint project between government, industry, and the public education system to capture and channel students towards science and engineering curriculum and careers in the space industry. Students have the opportunity to observe the application of technology, the managing of people and processes to achieve the mission objectives, and the careers available the in aerospace field through study and hands-on involvement in scientific satellite missions.

The Laurel High School CSLP has a “Space Awareness Center” where students can become more familiar with space science and engineering. The center has two computers, a flight simulator, periodicals, flight status boards, and other up-to-date space-related materials and activities, and it includes a classroom for large group instruction.

Laurel High School’s CSLP spent its first two years studying the SAMPEX mission. The first year (1991-2) was involved with pre-launch activities as the spacecraft was constructed and tested at nearby Goddard Space Flight Center. A student from CSLP attended the SAMPEX launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in July 1992. The Scout rocket which launched SAMPEX had a large version of the Laurel High CSLP logo on the nose. After the SAMPEX launch, students learned to read the data received from the satellite, and to monitor the status of the satellite.

During the past year or two the CSLP has studied the second and third “Small Explorer Missions:” FAST (Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer), and SWAS (Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite). CSLP has expanded from the original single site at Laurel High to other schools in Berkeley, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bowie State University Satellite Operations and Control Center

The Bowie State University Satellite Operations and Control Center is a joint venture between Bowie State University and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This unique venture creates, and staffs, with undergraduate students, an orbiting Satellite Operations Control Center on the University campus.

The Solar, Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) is a small scientific satellite which is part of the Small Explorer (SMEX) program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland, where it was designed and built. SAMPEX gathers scientific data in the fields of space plasma physics, solar physics and atmospheric physics. SAMPEX was launched aboard a Scout rocket on July 3, 1992. SAMPEX flight operations are managed from the SMEX Mission Operations Control Center at Goddard. The SAMPEX mission was planned with a three year life-cycle, plus a possible one year extension. On July 1, 1995 SAMPEX entered its extended operations phase. Shortly after this milestone, discussions began concerning the establishment of a SAMPEX Flight Operations Facility on a university campus.

Bowie State University (BSU) was selected as the recipient of the first satellite operations facility constructed by NASA’s GSFC on a university campus. Located 10 miles northeast of Goddard, BSU specializes in the undergraduate computer science curriculum. It also ranks as the fifth largest producer of African-American recipients of the Master’s degree in computer science. The University has partnered with Goddard Space Flight Center previously on several research and outreach projects not related to spacecraft operations.

The Bowie State Satellite Operations Control Center (BSOCC) is located in the east wing of the Thurgood Marshall Library. The selection of the library offers a highly visible and accessible setting. The BSOCC is near the circle where all students, faculty, staff and visitors enter campus.

The BSOCC is partitioned into two rooms. One room is a classroom setting with a television monitor capable of receiving NASA Select which features dedicated NASA programming. This area is designated as the “Mission Analysis Room”. It will be used as a training and study laboratory for the student flight operations team. The adjacent room is the “Mission Operations Room”. This room contains all of the hardware required for satellite operations. The BSOCC is capable of replaying archived SAMPEX data allowing a “risk-free” environment to begin training the student operators. It is also capable of receiving real-time telemetry and transmitting commands to SAMPEX under the supervision of the BSOCC Center Director.

The BSOCC Center Director is responsible for the daily operations of the BSOCC, recruiting and training the student Flight Operations Team (FOT) as well as coordinating all BSOCC activities with GSFC’s SMEX FOT.

To be eligible for the BSOCC program, students must major in computer science, mathematics (including dual math/engineering) or other majors with strong math and computer science backgrounds. Students will also be required to have taken computer literacy courses, plus be enrolled in a pre-calculus or higher math course. The student flight operations team members will be required to carry a full-time academic schedule during the spring and fall semesters plus spend 20 hours per week training in the BSOCC. They will become SAMPEX Spacecraft Analyst certified once they have completed a series of tests and have become proficient in skills necessary for spacecraft operations. Certification will make them ideal candidates for employment after graduation with either NASA or its contractors. The technical knowledge and experience gained through the BSOCC program will be equally valuable for graduates in a wide variety of high-tech vocations.

The BSOCC will also provide high school students the opportunity to learn about satellite operations alongside university students via the Cooperative Satellite Learning Project (CSLP). These high school students will gain “hands-on” technical experience. This exposure to spacecraft operations will encourage them to continue their education at BSU and the BSOCC program after high school graduation.

BSU is excited to have its students, faculty and staff partnered with NASA’s GSFC. This partnership will not only provide the University the opportunity to establish a remote satellite operations facility on its campus but also the chance to develop a new curriculum centered around spacecraft operations. The University will achieve its mission to infuse technology into every aspect of learning and teaching. This will only enhance BSUÍs already proud history, and build our bridge to the global economy.