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Student Enrichment


Student involvement is a hallmark of the Atsa program.

Students are selected on the basis of high GPA in a technical major, discipline, work ethic and enthusiasm. Our students so far have been undergraduates selected from various South Carolina colleges and universities, including a community college. 

A series of undergraduate summer student teams under the direction of Dr. Sollitt have been designing, building and performing fit/function testing of the Atsa 1 Camera, the testbed instrument that will be mounted in the right-hand side of the cockpit of XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft. This work is ongoing at The Citadel. In Summer 2012, a student team conducted fit/function testing of the Atsa 1 system in a mockup of the Lynx cockpit at XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, CA.

The Atsa program will be using undergraduate students as telescope operators on suborbital flights. One of the goals of the Atsa program is to fly the world’s first “student astronaut” – that is, an undergraduate student who will fly high enough during his or her research flight to qualify for astronaut wings (altitudes above 100 km). Students are helping to develop the training regimen for Atsa operators and have participated in the Suborbital Scientist program at the NASTAR Center, including centrifuge flights.

This summer’s student team will refine the design of the Atsa 1 Camera, and conduct field testing of the instrument to characterize detector response and data quality. Early in the 2014 program, the students will undergo Suborbital Scientist training at the NASTAR Center. At the end of the summer, they will participate in a second fit test at XCOR Aerospace coupling the Atsa 1 Camera to the actual Mark 1 Lynx spacecraft.

Future projects will include g-load testing of the system in a NASTAR centrifuge, and conducting zero-g flights. 




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