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OpenOrbiter: Analysis of a Student-Run Space Program
Proceedings of the 64th International Astronautical Congress (2013)
  • Jeremy Straub

Students at the University of North Dakota, as part of faculty-mentored teams in a student-lead program, are working to broaden participation in humanity's exploration of space. The OpenOrbiter Small Spacecraft Development Initiative (OSSDI) is demonstrating two complementary paradigm-changers. First, the initiative facilitates student involvement in all aspects of a space program, without the preconceptions present in established space activities. Second, it is demonstrating a low-cost framework for small spacecraft development. These combined activities are poised to demonstrate a new way forward for space exploration: combined, they allow risk-taking exuberance and a cost of entry that makes risk-taking exuberance acceptable, even desirable.

The Open Prototype for Educational NanoSats (OPEN) will be comprised of a complete set of design documents, operating software, testing plans and fabrication and integration instructions that allow a 1U CubeSat-class spacecraft to be created with a parts budget of approximately USD $5,000. This price point allows the project to be paid for from teaching and other accessible and risk-tolerant internal funding sources, allowing student control.

This paper presents the OpenOrbiter Mission and the paradigm changes it is enabling. It compares and considers the mission from a national/international policy perspective and as a pedagogical tool.

  • OpenOrbiter,
  • student space program,
  • university class spacecraft,
  • CubeSat
Publication Date
September, 2013
Publisher Statement
Copyright ©2013 by Jeremy Straub, Josh Berk, Anders Nervold and Christoffer Korvald. Published by the IAF, with permission and released to the IAF to publish in all forms.
Citation Information
Jeremy Straub. "OpenOrbiter: Analysis of a Student-Run Space Program" Proceedings of the 64th International Astronautical Congress (2013)
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