The ThinSat Program takes place at local high schools during the school year. ThinSat students develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills as they design, implement, and present their own aerospace projects.


Destination SPACE, in partnership with Twiggs Space Lab, NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC), and Near Space Launch is pioneering a small satellite program that  increases student engagement and interest in STEM related fields. This is achieved using the ThinSat, a small satellite capable of transmitting data from an extreme low earth orbit (ELEO).

The ThinSat Program sets a new standard for STEM related academics in the space industry.  Students from middle school to the university level develop satellite hardware, test sensor components with low and high altitude balloon flights, analyze data, and launch an actual satellite into space.

Destination SPACE's ThinSat Program is a 3-phase after-school STEM program designed to provide  hands on remote sensing experiences to high school students across Appalachia in the NASA LaRC states of NC, SC, VA, WV, and KY. ​

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Phase I introduces participants to concepts related to satellites and remote sensing. They are given ThinSat construction kits that they launch on low altitude balloons. Participants build, operate, calibrate, and design applications from the weather and climate data they collect.  

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In Phase II, students continue learning about satellites, engineering, and the atmosphere.

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Building off of Phase I, they design their own experiments for high altitude weather balloons.

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 After the launch, students analyze their data and present their findings.

In the much-anticipated third phase of the ThinSat Program, students build their own satellites and launch them into orbit! 


ThinSats are launched from the second stage of International Space Station supply rockets.  The ThinSats enter a five to six day ELEO during which time the participants collect, analyze, and interpret the data. The launch of the ThinSats utilizes unused space assets and creates no lasting orbital debris.