Daytona Beach Campus


Embry-Riddle Targets Space Debris in Nanosatellite Competition

Daytona Beach, FL, January 7, 2013

Air Force Grant for Nanosatellite Competition

Nanosatellite deployment

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is one of 10 U.S. universities selected to design and build small satellites in a competition sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Space Vehicles Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The Embry-Riddle project will receive $110,000 over the next two years from the Air Force’s University Nanosat Program for the design phase of the competition. The winner, to be announced in January 2015, will be awarded additional funding for the construction and launch of their satellite.

Dr. Bogdan Udrea, assistant professor of aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle, along with colleagues and students will develop a nanosatellite named Arapaima to conduct three-dimensional, visible and infrared imaging and surveillance of resident space objects (RSOs).

“Space debris and hundreds of satellites are cluttering low-Earth orbit and threatening future space missions,” Dr. Udrea said. “Our project, if successful, will validate a range of low-cost, low-risk nanosat technologies that can be used for efficient RSO removal.”

Dr. Udrea, the principal investigator, will coordinate the venture with co-investigators Dr. Adam Huang, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas, and Lt. Michael Nayak, an Embry-Riddle graduate employed as a satellite flight test engineer with the Space Development & Test Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The project includes the contributions of numerous current and former students enrolled in Dr. Udrea’s spacecraft design courses at Embry-Riddle. Among the 12 aerospace engineering students actively involved in the Arapaima missions, Michaella Ryle is the student program manager and Nicholas Martini is the missions systems engineer. Subsystem team leads are Ayham Baba for the payload, Samantha Gillespie for telecommunications, Steven Caicedo for structures and mechanisms and Timothy Grande for the onboard computer.

Dr. William Barrot, Embry-Riddle associate professor of electrical engineering, and his students will build a telecommunications subsystem for the satellite, and other faculty and students across Embry-Riddle departments will assist in the multidisciplinary effort.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 60 baccalaureate, master's and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business and Engineering. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., and through the Worldwide Campus with more than 150 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at