STEM Launch Programs


EduSat CAD
EduSat Build

For his award-winning senior thesis, Kyle Ikuma ('23) designed, built, and tested "EduSat", a modular 1U CubeSat platform designed to host multiple parallel student experiments into orbit!

The 1U platform is designed to accommodate either student experiments (i.e., payloads) or solar panels as its side panels.  A configuration with 4 side-panel experiments would comprise a non-rechargeable (primary-battery) mission, intentionally designed to decay from ELEO (Extremely Low Earth Orbit) in only a few days, thus still providing a true orbital mission for schools, but without further cluttering LEO with more debris!

Alternatively, extended (or even long-life) missions are achievable by replacing 1 or more of the side-panel experiments with an interchangeable solar panel.  

The platform could accept a variety of student experiment kits, but as a reference mission, we tried integrating around MaxIQ's STEM kits. The click-together MaxIQ chips can serve not only as the side-panel student experiments, but also even as the platform's internal flight computer, IMU, and avionics!

Kyle designed a single custom PC104-based PCB card to serve as the breakout board to each of the side-panel experiments.  This board also serves doubly as a PC104 "motherboard" (breakout board) for our NSL EyeStar-S4 Iridium uplink/downlink radio (our baseline comm system), and can serve conveniently as such (i.e., simply as an EyeStar PC104 breakout board) for use by other PC104-based CubeSat builders! (even those who don't intend to utilize the side-panel breakouts)

Download all the mechanical CAD and PCB design files at the bottom of this page. 

ISS STEM Launch Platforms

Anthony Matimu ('26) further adapted our STEM experiment batching platforms for use on the International Space Station.  Leveraging Nanoracks' COTS Nanolab ISS experiment platform, Anthony designed and fabricated packaging to fit (and power) 10-20 independent STEM experiment kits into a single 1U-2U COTS Nanolab enclosure:

COTS Nanolab CAD
COTS Nanolab prototype

(Image credit: Irwin Gratz/Maine Public)

We presented our ISS platform at the 2023 inaugural Maine Space Conference, where it got some great press! (here and here)

Anthony then further expanded the platform by designing our first all-custom Nanolab enclosure that can enclose and batch even larger, more diverse STEM experiment kits:

Custom STEM Nanolab Color

As a reference mission, we tried integrating around MaxIQ's STEM kits. The first STEM launch program that will implement our Nanolab platform will be their International Space Station STEM Launch Program!

Download all of these mechanical CAD files at the bottom of this page. 

Suborbital STEM Kit Enclosure

As part of his SPRE summer internship, Will Huang ('25) designed a STEM payload enclosure in a 3U cubesat form factor.  The sturdy aluminum structure is designed to enclose a stack of 15-30 standardized STEM educational payload kits, for insertion into a 3U cubesat dispenser or canister.  The enclosure is composed of machined aluminum end plates, 3D-printed (or machined) internal payload "shelves", and aluminum sheet sidewalls that can be either cheaply lasercut (online) or waterjet-cut on our own desktop waterjet!

STEM payload enclosure

Photo credit: Tori Repp/Fotobuddy

Will specifically designed the aluminum end plates and sidewalls to be also fabricable from 3D-printed and lasercut plastics, thus comprising a "budget" version of the enclosure, fabricable by any school on a modest budget.  The "budget" version is admittedly less sturdy, and its flightworthiness remains to be investigated via vibe test and launch (regardless, this plastic material selection would only qualify it for suborbital--not orbital--use cases).  The first STEM launch program that will implement our enclosure will be MaxIQ's bluShift Suborbital Launch Program!  

Budget enclosure

Download the mechanical CAD files below.