Mission Control

One small step for Broncos—getting ready for one giant leap in space travel.

Kayleigh Dobson ’19 doesn’t work at NASA—yet—but her friends like to say she does.

“Sometimes I correct them,” Dobson jokes.

What is indisputable: She was part of a team of SCU engineering students in charge of mission control for a NASA satellite launched in late 2017 from the International Space Station. The E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite, or EcAMSat, is a nanosatellite put in orbit to house experiments testing space microgravity effects on the antibiotic resistance of E. coli.

“It’s a stepping stone toward long-term space travel,” Dobson says. “If an astronaut gets a bacterial or viral infection, they can’t currently prescribe antibiotics in the correct dosage.”

During each pass over Santa Clara—about four times a day—students monitored the condition of the satellite itself: calling out and tracking degree elevations, state of health information, and data pages.

The work was fascinating, but the satellite didn’t observe holidays. Over Thanksgiving break, students were in the university’s Satellite Mission Operations Center around the clock to collect data.

post-image International Space Station Photo courtesy NASA
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