St. Thomas More School Cathedral Satellite-1 (STMSat-1) - 05.30.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Future rocket scientists at St. Thomas More Cathedral School, a PreK to 8th grade school in the United States, are building a “CubeSat” satellite to orbit Earth and gather data. The tiny four-inch and about three-pound cube satellite named St. Thomas More School Cathedral Satellite-1 (STMSat-1) is delivered by a resupply rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) where it is deployed by an ISS NanoRacks launcher into its own orbit to capture images and transmit them back to the schools around the world for research and teaching purposes in math and science.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Joseph Pellegrino, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Joseph Pellegrino, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Eleanor McCormack, Cathedral of St. Thomas More, Arlington, VA, United States

St. Thomas More Cathedral School, Arlington, VA, United States
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The primary objective of St. Thomas More School Cathedral Satellite-1 (STMSat-1) allows a strong emphasis on hand-on, inquiry based learning activities for young students.
  • The STM’s CubeSat primary payload is a small electro optical visible camera, and its on-orbit mission is to photograph the earth from space, then transmit this data to St. Thomas More Cathedral School’s ground station in Arlington, Virginia and remote ground stations throughout
  • The nanosatelitte also carries a medal blessed by the Pope, a capsule filled with personal items from St. Thomas More Annual Auction’s winners, and an etched metal plate including all the signatures of all STM students, faculty, and staff.


St. Thomas More Cathedral School’s PreK to 8th grade students have been working to develop and launch a small satellite into space. The STMSat-1 project aims to make the grade school the first in the United States to accomplish this goal. NASA approved the satellite and provided the school with a mobile "clean room" to ensure that the construction phase is met with strict guidelines and standards for launch and deployment from the International Space Station. The space agency also provides an antenna to the school that allows the school to receive the photos and temperature readings that the satellite sends back. The STM-Sat-1 mission is to perform Earth observation and engage grade school students around the world as remote Mission Operation Centers. STMSat-1 is expected to remain in orbit for at least nine months.

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Space Applications
Nanosatellite technology provides an efficient and economical way to send satellites into space. These tiny satellites can perform many of the same functions as traditional satellites which are much heavier and more expensive to build and launch. Constellations of space-based CubeSats are able to communicate with each other and work together to enhance space-based global communication networks, research on climate, and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Earth Applications
The STMSat-1 experiment is a great opportunity for young students to discover and apply learning to real-world scenarios. Projects like STMSat-1 serve to stimulate young minds and develop early interests in future generations of engineers and scientists. Students learn the technology, method, and hardware involved in building nanosatellites, and how these are put into orbit to do work benefiting people on Earth.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

CubeSat to be deployed using the JEM airlock, the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer facility, and the Japanese Experimental Module (JEM) Remote Manipulating System (JRMS).

NanoRacks CubeSats are delivered to the ISS already integrated within a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD). A crew member transfers the NRCSDs, from the launch vehicle to the JEM. Visual inspection for damage to each NRCSD is performed. When CubeSat deployment operations begin, the NRCSDs are unpacked, mounted on the JAXA Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) and placed on the JEM airlock slide table for transfer outside the ISS. A crew member operates the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS) – to grapple and position for deployment. CubeSats are deployed when ground controllers command a specific NRCSD to release its CubeSat.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Students from St. Thomas More Cathedral School are involved in building a cubesat.  Image courtesy of STM.

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STM students designing an antenna to receive data from their on-orbit CubeSat STMSat-1.  Image courtesy of STM.

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NASA Image: ISS047E120450 - Photographic documentation of NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Number 8 Deployment Operations. Leading cubesat is called STMSAT-1. Photo taken during Expedition 47.

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