Commercial Satellite with Taylor University Connections Arrives at the International Space Station

Published: Jul 16, 2014

A commercial satellite from Indiana with Taylor University and Upland connections has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) following a successful launch by NASA from Wallops Island, Virginia, on Sunday, July 13.

The satellite, which will in turn be deployed from the ISS, was developed and is owned by NearSpace Launch (NSL), a start-up company in Upland, Ind., with support from the Kirtland Air Force Base. NSL’s Chief Engineer is Mr. Jeff Dailey and the Chief Scientist is Dr. Hank Voss – both members of Taylor University’s Department of Physics and Engineering.

The Globalstar Experiment And Risk Reduction Satellite (GEARRS) mission is to explore the new Globalstar satellite constellation communication network, and the secondary objective is to reduce risk for new satellite technologies. The GEARRS is based on the recent technology demonstrated by the Taylor University and NSL TSAT experiment launched in April into low-earth orbit and the current risk reduction for the ELEO satellite development effort.

According to Voss and Daily, the NearSpace Launch company mission is creation of new technology, service, and education for studying the earth’s environment with high-altitude balloon platforms, with Extremely Low Earth Orbit (ELEO) platforms and with microsatellites deeper into our solar system. 

This launch follows closely another Taylor satellite launch by NASA during the spring when a small satellite designed and built by Taylor University students was carried aloft by a SpaceX Falcon rocket. The satellite, known as TSAT, orbited the earth 626 times before reentering the earth's atmosphere on May 28. TSAT was a winning design in NASA's ELaNa V (Education Launch of Nanosatellite - 5th launch) program - a nationwide competition that attracted entries from dozens of large statewide universities and research laboratories. Additionally, TSAT was the only satellite designed and built exclusively by undergraduate students.

Five undergraduate student researchers at Taylor University are working on a new ELEO satellite final design for a national student competition, and the TSAT data analysis and will be presenting their results in Logan, Utah, August 2-6, at the national AIAA Small Sat Conference. If the Taylor team is successful, their satellite would be launched next year.

Additional funding for student internships and travel has recently been awarded to NSL through the NASA Indiana Space Grant Consortium (INSGC).