Morehead Space Science Program looks to contribute to state's number one export industry

04/17/2017 08:08 PM

MOREHEAD – The Ronald G. Eaglin Space Science Center, on the campus of Morehead State University, is at the heart of the heart of MSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences, one of only five such programs in the nation where students and faculty have used the centers facilities to develop, test, validate and operate spacecraft systems.

Students and faculty in the program work to support the commonwealth’s number one export industry which is aerospace manufacturing.

In 2016, 37.1 percent of Kentucky’s total exports have been aerospace products and parts, an increase of +24.3% than the previous year.

Executive director Dr. Benjamin Malphrus, says the Morehead program has undergraduate and Master’s programs in astronautical engineering which is just spacecraft, and an undergraduate program is space science which is astronautical engineering and space physics.

“The idea is that we can design, develop, build, test and operate spacecraft all under one roof,” Malphus said. “We have facilities devoted to the design of spacecraft, we have prototyping facilities where you can do electronics bread boarding, pull equipment down to do your electronic boards, testing facilities, vibration analysis systems, thermal back chamber. Pretty much the entire suite of test facilities.”

Senior Kennedy Haught likes the fact that classes in the program uses a hands-on approach to learning.

“We design the satellites on software, we design the circuits, we design the hardware, and then we take that and then we make an idea, we first start by usually 3-D printing everything, and then when we have are sizing down and everything looks good, that’s when the actual manufacturing comes in,” Haught said.

Malphrus feels that the Space Sciences program is one of Kentucky’s best kept secrets but says there are indications that is changing.

Typically, 10-12 new students enter the program each year, but there are 46 freshman scheduled to enter the program for the 2017/18 academic year.

In addition, around 20 students from the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, a dual-credit residential high school for academically exceptional Kentucky students, have expressed interest in the program, bringing the potential number of new students up to as high as sixty six.


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