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MSU space science program featured at SOAR Summit

Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) held its annual summit Oct. 13 and 14 in Corbin, highlighting some of Morehead State's accomplishments in space systems engineering.   

The 2021 SOAR Summit focused specifically on the issues and challenges facing the Appalachian region. Drawing more than 1,000 attendees, participants included residents and businesses, elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and other change agents across Appalachia. Morehead State partners with SOAR to support regional outreach efforts, economic development opportunities, and enhance education in the University's service region, as outlined in the institution's strategic plan.   

The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Jerry Linenger, a retired U.S. Navy flight surgeon, astronaut and epidemiologist. Linenger spoke about his experience in medicine and space exploration. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he received a doctorate in medicine and research methodology and a dual master's degree in policy and systems management. He also spent five months aboard the Russian space station Mir, which involved a series of life-threatening events, to fulfill a wide array of scientific experiments.  

MSU's connections to space exploration were highlighted at the event, including the upcoming launch of Artemis I in February. The rocket, the largest ever built, will carry the Lunar IceCube satellite, designed, built and tested by MSU students and faculty, as a secondary payload. Lunar IceCube is a small, complex interplanetary spacecraft about the size of a carry-on piece of luggage.

It was designed, built and tested by a team of MSU Space Systems Engineering faculty and more than 50 students. Morehead State leads the mission in partnership with NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, JPL, and the Busek Space Propulsion Company. The satellite will use a plasma drive propulsion system to take it on a circuitous route to the Moon. It will orbit for a year and investigate the transportation physics of water ice on the lunar surface in support of a lunar outpost that NASA plans to develop.   

The summit also highlighted the work of several MSU graduates who are now working in the aerospace and engineering fields, particularly those working at companies in Kentucky including Rajant Corporation.

For information about MSU’s Space Science Center, visit  

To explore programs in MSU’s Department of Physics, Earth Science and Space Systems Engineering, visit, email or call 606-783-2381.
Photo: From left: MSU President Dr. Jay Morgan and Dr. Ben Malphrus, executive director of MSU's Space Science Center, presented SOAR Summit Keynote Speaker Jerry Lineger with a 3D model of the Lunar IceCube satellite.