CTE Mission: CubeSat
Bring space missions to students: The U.S. Department of Education invites high schools to design and build CubeSat prototypes.
U.S. Department of Education
Type of Challenge: Ideas
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: Sponsors include: Arduino, Blue Origin, Chevron, EnduroSat, LEGO Education, Magnitude.io, MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, XinaBox
Submission Start: 08/18/2020 09:00 AM ET
Submission End: 10/16/2020 05:59 PM ET
Visit the official CTE Mission: CubeSat website at https://www.CTEMissionCubeSat.com. Receive timely updates on CTE Mission: CubeSat by signing up for the newsletter.
About the Challenge
The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) is announcing CTE Mission: CubeSat (the Challenge), a Challenge funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 as amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The Challenge calls upon eligible high schools to design and build CubeSat prototypes.
The specifications of CubeSats that were adopted by the commercial satellite industry reduce the time and cost to design, build, and launch a satellite, making orbital missions more accessible for both commercial and educational use. For the purpose of this Challenge, and to reduce production time, high schools will be encouraged to build a CubeSat Prototype using more accessible, low-fidelity materials (e.g., 3D-printed material, wood, plastic, or other materials) that meet the standard CubeSat dimensions adopted by industry and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
A CubeSat Prototype can be flown and tested using various flight methods that effectively simulate a low-altitude launch, such as, but not limited to, tethered balloons, amateur rockets, drones, or small aircraft.
By participating in the Challenge, students and educators will gain an understanding of the phases involved in designing, building, and launching a satellite. The Challenge focuses on select elements of the CubeSat development process to enable students to experience as much of the design, build, and flight stages on a timeline significantly shorter than NASA estimates to be typically 18-24 months to build a CubeSat and a few months to a few years to launch a CubeSat into orbit.
Using CubeSat Prototypes, rather than space-ready CubeSats, enables schools to participate in the Challenge and conduct a test flight without the need for design and testing approvals that CubeSats entering orbit require.
The Challenge will be conducted in two phases:
Phase 1 Mission Design (August – December 2020):
Potential entrants will receive support through curated and customized online resources as they develop their Mission Proposals and consider various flight methods to launch their CubeSat Prototypes (e.g., balloons, drones, or other locally available launch vehicles). At least one online information session will be held during this phase. Potential entrants may enter the Challenge by submitting a Mission Proposal that will include descriptions of objectives, materials needed, plans for prototyping, proposed flight method, and team details.
Entrants who fulfill the criteria described in the Eligibility section and complete a submission that meets the requirements of a Mission Proposal will be eligible to proceed into the judging process, and if selected, participate in Phase 2 as a finalist.
Judging: Independent judges will review Mission Proposals using the Finalist Selection Criteria, which are included in the Judging Criteria section of this notice and make recommendations to the Department as to which entrants should be selected as finalists. Up to five finalists will be selected from the group of eligible entrants based on submitted Mission Proposals and invited to participate in Phase 2.
Phase 2 Mission Build and Launch (January – May 2021):
During Phase 2, finalists will implement their Mission Proposal by building a CubeSat Prototype and planning flight events where they will each launch their prototype using their proposed flight method. Finalists will receive mentorship and additional virtual resources to support them throughout the self-paced mission build process. Flight events must be conducted by the date and time determined by the Department which will be published on the Challenge webpage. Following the flight event, finalists will submit a Flight Report that includes a detailed description of the flight experience, results, lessons learned, flight data, visual documentation (e.g., photographs and/or videos), a detailed flight event planning checklist, a description of the functional CubeSat Prototype, a description of other devices and equipment required for their selected flight method, and a project budget.
Judging: Independent judges may review Flight Reports using the Winner Selection Criteria, which are included in the Judging Criteria section of this notice and make recommendations to the Department as to which finalists should be selected as winners based on submitted Flight Reports.
The Challenge offers a $25,000 cash prize pool.
The $25,000 cash prize pool will be distributed evenly among up to five finalists. Any potential prizes awarded under this Challenge will be paid by electronic funds transfer. Award recipients will be responsible for any applicable local, state, and federal taxes and reporting that may be required under applicable tax laws.
The following non-monetary prize pool will be distributed to finalists:
- 10 LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Sets
- 10 XinaBox kits
- Five Arduino kits
- Five Club for the Future Space Mail kits
The Official Rules, Terms, and Conditions for CTE Mission: CubeSat can be found here: https://www.ctemissioncubesat.com/rules-terms-conditions/
Finalist Selection Criteria
Up to 105 points may be assigned during the judging of Mission Proposals in Phase 1 based on the finalist selection criteria.
Judges may assign up to 20 points for each selection criterion during the judging of Mission Proposals in Phase 1 (for a total of up to 100 points) based on the following five selection criteria:
- Community engagement. The extent to which the Mission Proposal provides a vision of how the entrants will engage their broader student body and the local community.
- CTE connection. The extent to which the Mission Proposal demonstrates an ability and intention to incorporate available CTE programs and CTE students at the school into the mission.
- Learning outcomes. The extent to which the Mission Proposal demonstrates an ability and intention to improve students’ knowledge and hands-on exposure to technical skills and multidisciplinary content.
- Mission feasibility. The extent to which the Mission Proposal outlines a preliminary project plan that is clear and considers implementation challenges schools may face, such as cost and potential technological constraints.
- Team composition. The extent to which the proposed team demonstrates involvement from a broad cross-section of students, including, but not limited to, students in various grade levels and students with disabilities.
Judges may assign up to five bonus points during the judging of Mission Proposals in Phase 1 (in addition to a total score of up to 100 points outlined in the Phase 1 Finalist Selection and Criteria section of the Rules, Terms, and Conditions, for a total score of up to 105 points) based on the following selection criteria:
- Addressing need. The extent to which the student population served by the eligible entrant is low-income, as defined by the percentage of students enrolled in free and reduced price lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759), as amended through P.L. 116–6.
The Department will review the recommendations of the judges and may consider additional characteristics when selecting finalists from the top scoring submissions to ensure diverse distribution of awards, including:
- Geographic location and local population density;
- Percentage of students enrolled in free and reduced price lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1759), as amended through P.L. 116–6; and
- School size (number of students).
Winner Selection Criteria
Up to 100 points may be assigned during the judging of Flight Reports in Phase 2 based on the winner selection criteria.
Judges may assign up to 20 points for each selection criterion during the judging of finalist Flight Reports (for a total of up to 100 points) based on the following five selection criteria:
- Community engagement. The extent to which the Flight Report demonstrates significant engagement of the broader student body and the local community.
- CTE connection. The extent to which the Flight Report demonstrates an incorporation of available CTE at the school.
- Learning outcomes. The extent to which the Flight Report demonstrates evolution and improvement of student knowledge and hands-on exposure to technical skills.
- Mission execution. The extent to which the Flight Report demonstrates a completed execution of the project plan, and documents launch results.
- Team composition. The extent to which the team demonstrates involvement from a broad cross-section of students, including various grade-levels, students with disabilities, multidisciplinary subjects, and CTE programs and skills.
How to Enter
To enter this challenge go to https://www.CTEMissionCubeSat.com
Point of Contact
Have feedback or questions about this challenge? Send the challenge manager an email