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NASA provides New Satellite Antenna to Morehead State University

12 meter satellite antennaA 12-meter tracking antenna, transferred to Morehead State University (MSU) by the NASA Deep Space Network at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), will serve as satellite tracking station for low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellite mission support and as a training facility for space systems engineering, astrophysics and astronomy students, allowing them to gain experience in space mission operations. The instrument will be available for a wide variety of satellite telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) services. The new antenna will build on the success of the larger 21-meter antenna system used to support NASA satellite missions and CubeSat missions developed by Morehead State University students and staff. It will be located on a hilltop overlooking the MSU campus alongside the 21-meter antenna.   

“Dozens of students will have the opportunity to perform research projects, thesis projects and special topics courses on various aspects of the antenna system, not only after the instrument is operational but even during the installation and commissioning of the station,” said Dr. Ben Malphrus, executive director of the MSU Space Science Center. “Space Systems Engineering graduates benefit from hands-on training and from directly supporting NASA space missions. Access to cutting-edge instruments like the 12-meter antenna represents a unique aspect of our program and make our graduates highly competitive in the aerospace workforce.”   

Malphrus added the University’s existing 21-meter antenna will be upgraded to be incorporated into the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) as an affiliated node.  While other antennas like the European Deep Space Network provides cross-support to the DSN, Morehead State’s Space Science Center will soon become the first non-NASA “affiliated” node on the DSN. 

The 12-meter project is funded by several grants, including one from the Appalachian Regional Commission announced in late October and through a state appropriation.   

Construction on the new antenna will begin in the spring with the goal of having the antenna fully operational by the end of 2022.   

For more information about programs in Morehead State’s Department of Physics, Earth Science and Space Systems Engineering, visit, email or call 606-783-2381.  

Morehead State is a NASA Space Grant University. The Space Grant national network includes over 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies.