ThinSat Program


Destination SPACE, in partnership with Twiggs Space Lab, NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC), and Near Space Launch is pioneering a small satellite program that will increase student engagement and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields. This will be achieved by 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 will develop satellite hardware, test sensor components with low and high altitude balloon flights, analyze data, and launch an actual payload into space.

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


Phase I

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

Phase II


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


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


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

Phase III

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

ThinSats are manifested on an Orbital ATK rocket supply mission to the International Space Station to be launched from Wallops Island and released during the second stage.  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.