The Student Satellite Program is the Aerospace Systems Lab's (ASL) primary student program, in which students design and build a satellite to compete in the University Nanosat competition. Our satellite project explores the cost-effective operation of autonomous service vehicles in space and has won second place in the competition the first two times we entered. In addition to managing the program, the students work on two complementary projects: Akoya, the host satellite, and Bandit, the autonomous service vehicle.

The goal of the Bandit project is to demonstrate remote operation of an under-5kg service vehicle. This includes repeatable docking and station keeping (keeping the vehicle in an assigned orbit) with a host spacecraft as well as blended autonomous control (having the ability to be operated manually or autonomously). In the future we intend to demonstrate the feasibility of using a university Nanosat-class spacecraft and Bandit-class service vehicle for more advanced missions.

Akoya-B is a 25kg student-built spacecraft, designed to operate in low-Earth orbit as the parent vehicle for the Bandit mission. Akoya can also be used as the host satellite for generic payloads, such as biological experiments. It was developed in collaboration with Santa Clara University, and demonstrates rapid integration and testing of flight hardware.

The University Nanosat Program is run as a joint Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) activity. Select schools participate in a 24-month satellite design competition; the winning school delivers a flight-ready spacecraft for a future, secondary launch.