2019 was a year of numerous important successes for our center. We are proud that one of our faculty, Professor Bhuvana Srinivasan, has become our second NSF CAREER Award winner (Professor Joseph Baker was our first). We are similarly proud that one of our recent graduates, Dr. Kshitija Deshpande, now faculty at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, was also a CAREER Award winner.  Another recent graduate, Dr. Evan Thomas, won the American Geophysical Union Basu Early Career Award. In the past year, our students have won five best paper awards and two fellowships.

We continue to be successful with new ground and space technology programs for observing the Earth’s near space environment. In the past year, under the supervision of professors Black and Shinpaugh, our students launched one of the three satellites that formed the Virginia CubeSat Constellation. Professor Greg Earle’s LAICE satellite mission was confirmed by NASA for flight and is expected to launch in 2020 or 2021. Two stratospheric balloon missions led by Professors Bailey and Black were launched and a sounding rocket experiment (Bailey) will launch in January 2020. Professors Ruohoniemi and Baker were renewed for five further years as the lead PI institution for the US component of the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN).

This past year was the first year of our ECE-3104 “Introduction to Space Systems and Technologies” course and this year will be the first for the Space Systems Major within the ECE department. Professor Wayne Scales and graduate student Ellen Robertson were invited to speak to a congressional committee on the importance of hands-on experience for students in space fields as they prepare for roles in industry. Professor Jonathon Black is co-PI of a newly awarded two-year grant that will support the launch of the Virginia SmallSat Data Consortium, a collaborative research center co-led by Old Dominion University and Virginia Tech. We also added our first Space@VT faculty member from the Mechanical Engineering Department, Professor Erik Komendera, whose research program in space robotics is a natural fit to our center and we thus look forward to working with him.

Our success is made possible by the committed efforts of Space@VT faculty, staff and students, and all those who support and partner with us. We thank all of you and look forward to many new and fruitful collaborations. We are grateful for you and wish you the best for 2020!