The Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI) is a pilot program designed to assess the efficacy of smaller, low-cost space-flight missions and to test the proposition that a complement of missions in this class can be ideally matched to the traditional processes of research and development at the nation's universities. The expected cost of a STEDI mission, excluding the costs of the launch vehicle and associated launch services, is less than $4.4 million.
STEDI is funded by NASA and managed by the Universities Space Research Association under its Division of Educational Programs. The program has three phases: Phase I, mission definition ( 4 months); Phase II, mission implementation (2 years); and Phase III, mission operations and data analysis (up to 1 year).
Sixty-six proposals were received last summer in response to an Announcement of Opportunity issued by USRA in May. Proposal evaluations were completed in September and six teams were selected for Phase I to further develop their candidate missions.
In February two of these teams will be selected to continue into Phase II. These will be funded at no more than $4.15 million for spacecraft and instrument development and mission operations.
In parallel with the selection of the USRA mission teams, NASA held a competition for its Ultralite Expendable Launch Vehicle (UELV). The RFP was released in July and called for a vehicle capable of placing a 300-lb payload in a 300-nautical-mile polar orbit. On November 15 NASA announced that Orbital Sciences Corporation had been selected for contract negotiations and that their Pegasus XL vehicle will be the UELV. The Pegasus XL is a three-stage rocket approximately 50 feet in length and is air-launched after dropping from an L-1011 at 38,000 feet.
The first STEDI launch will be in early 1997.
STEDI Teams Selected for Phase I Mission Definition
Principal Investigator: Richard C. Henry, The Johns Hopkins University
Proposal Obective: Ultraviolet search for dark matter between the galaxies
Major Partners: Maryland Space Consortium
Principal Investigator: Brian E. Gilchrist, The University of Michigan
Proposal Objective: Demonstrate tether technology making lower thermosphere and ionosphere measurements
Major Partners: Martin Marietta Astronautics; University of Alabama, Huntsville; University of Texas, Dallas; Marshall Space Flight Center
Principal Investigator: David J. Forreist, University of New Hampshire
Proposal Objective: Demonstrate distance and polarization of gamma-ray bursts
Major Partners: Weber State University; University of Leicester
Principal Investigator: Daniel Cotton, Boston University
Proposal Objective: Tomographic measurements of properties of ionosphere and thermosphere
Major Partners: Naval Research Laboratories; MIT; University of Illinois; AeroAstro, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Charles A. Barth, University of Colorado
Proposal Objective: Measure nitric oxide density in terrestrial lower thermosphere
Major Partners: Ball Aerospace Corporation; NCAR
Principal Investigator: Elaine R. Hansen, Colorado Space Grant College
Proposal Objective: Measure global ozone and ozone-affecting constituents
Major Partners: Ball Aerospace Corporation