Please be advised that this website has been archived and will no longer be updated. The 20 chapter technical paper and the business plan is only in its first draft and is therefore rendered obsolete. There have been many changes to the design and direction of the paper.

For a detailed treatment of our space concepts as High School S.T.E.M. projects, please visit:

The Management

Where No One Has Gone Before

Coming soon...


A Well-Rounded Education
Having said all of that, we at NMSTARG have to acknowledge that there may be legitimate arguments that we as a nation are focused too much on S.T.E.M. and not enough on the Humanities, or Social Studies, or ... well, you get the point. We agree that those subjects are an important and integral part of a well-rounded education. The old adage "one cannot learn or do mathematics if one cannot read first" is certainly true.

And so we have to admit that we do not have an answer to this important question, except to say that we are an astronautics organization, and so in our defense it is natural for us to focus on S.T.E.M. But look again at that graphic above. That right there is as good enough reason as any for us to press on with this.

To those that say that our society focuses too much on education as a way to get a high paying job, instead of as an intrinsic reward onto itself, we would say: we agree. The focus on money in our society has led to shameful behavior on the part of the few that effect the many. We believe in the "Star Trek Scenario", where you do a job because you like your job, and because you can grow as a human being, not because of how much it pays. This is why we try to make our S.T.E.M. projects fun, even if we do have a warped sense of what's fun (all Star Trek puns intended).

One final note: we are not trying to encourage every student to go into a S.T.E.M. related field; on the contrary, we feel that exposing students to S.T.E.M. gives them a well rounded education, regardless of what direction they go after High School. We instead want to help the teacher push the students to look beyond the textbook and to achieve something real-world that often lies outside their comfort zone. We feel that students will always bring their particular talent to the projects, whether it involves art, or writing, or history, or ... well, we're sure you get the point again.

So without further ado, we present our four NMSTARG space-based S.T.E.M. projects!


Material List
  • Computers connected to the Internet
Total Cost
  • $0.00 (USD)
Science Topics
  • Physics, Astronautics
  • 12th (Pre-Calculus)
Essential Questions
  • What is the relationship between the change in velocity and the spacecraft weight?
  • Why do I need to raise or lower my orbital altitude?
  • Who are are some of the pioneers in space exploration?
  • What previous learning needs to be activated to design a mission to land on the moon?
  • Where is the Environmental Control/Life Support System (EC/LSS) of a spacecraft located?
  • When are my S.T.E.M. projects due?
  • Why is the exact amount of propellant used in a space mission so critical?
  • How is the weight of a spacecraft related to the duration of a space mission?
  • How can I pay for a space mission and still make a profit?
  • Wait. I have to do science and technology and engineering and mathematics, all at the same time? Woah.
Lesson Overview
Note: This website incorporates spreadsheets and slide-show presentations that are provided to teachers for use in the classroom.
  • Students first learn the basics of astronautics using pencil, paper, and calculator.
  • Students then use what they have learned to create a space mission calculator, designed according to the Engineering Design Process, that will be used for real-world spacecraft. They will use spreadsheet software to create the calculator.
  • The spreadsheet will be developed over the course of four (4) S.T.E.M. projects, with each project dealing with different aspects of space mission design.
  • The assigned space mission will include four (4) space vehicles or satellites that that are named after famous astronauts. Students will research and write a very short biography (one slide) about these heroic individuals, one for each of the 4 projects.

Learning Objectives
  • Interpret data related to astronautics and rocketry.
  • Select an optimum design from many design options to solve technological problems.
  • Explain the principles of spaceflight in mathematical and physical terms.
  • Integrate mathematics and astronautics in the engineering design process.
  • Analyze the physical principles of a change in orbital velocity (delta v) and the amount of propellant used, and relate these to a space mission design.
  • Use mathematics to calculate the change in orbital velocity, the spacecraft weight, and the amount of propellant used for a space mission.
  • Use financial analysis to determine if it is possible to make a profit from a space venture.
  • Use the Engineering Design Process to construct a real-world space mission calculator that is constrained by certain astronautics factors.
  • Define constraints to the real-world model.
  • Explain how solutions to the problem address the specific requirement.
  • Explain the relationships of the principles of astronautics to the concept of delta v, weight, and propellant.
  • Demonstrate how their space mission design calculator addresses the requirements of the delta v, weight, and propellant.

Science As Inquiry
  • Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations.
  • Design and conduct scientific investigations.
  • Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.
  • Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence.
  • Communicate and defend a scientific argument.
Physical Science
  • Use mathematics and logic to explain scientific principles.
  • Look up and use astronomical and astronautical constants.
Science and Technology
  • Identify a problem or design an opportunity.
  • Propose designs and choose between alternative solutions.
  • Implement a proposed solution.
  • Evaluate a solution and its consequences.
  • Communicate the problem, process, and solution.

Time Frame
  • Each project is to be completed at or near the end of each quarter, (or half-semester).
  • This means Project 1 is due around Midterm Fall Semester, Project 2 around the end of the Fall Semester, Project 3 around Midterm Spring Semester, and Project 4 around the end of the school year.
  • This gives the students about 6 weeks to research, complete, and present each project. If students work 2 hours a week, that comes to a total of 12 hours devoted to the project every quarter. This should give them plenty of time to complete the calculations, update the spreadsheet, finish the website, finish the slide-show presentation, and practice.


  • Begin Spaceflight: The moment a spacecraft crosses into space. Until this moment the spacecraft has been travelling in the atmosphere.
  • Begin Weightlessness: The moment after Rocket Burnout, when forces due to acceleration cease.
  • Drop: Releasing SpaceShip 2 from the mother ship. SpaceShip 2 then falls away to a safe distance before igniting its rocket engine.
  • End Spaceflight: The moment a spacecraft exits from space. The spacecraft returns to the atmospheric environment.
  • End Weightlessness: The moment at Reentry Interface, where the spacecraft begins to slow down and gravity returns.
  • Maximum Altitude: The highest point that a spacecraft reaches during a parabolic spaceflight.
  • Mission Elapsed Time (MET): Time since the beginning of the spaceflight.
  • Parabolic Spaceflight: A spacecraft that coasts into space after rocket burnout that has a flight profile in the shape of a parabola.
  • Reentry Interface: The moment a spacecraft encounters Earth's atmosphere, which is used to slow the spacecraft down for a safe landing.
  • Rocket Burnout: The moment a rocket engine shuts itself off, where the spacecraft continues upward on its own momentum.
  • Space Interface: The height where space "officially" begins, which is set at the internationally agreed upon altitude of 100,000 m, or 62 mi MSL.
  • SpaceShipTwo: The spacecraft that is dropped from SpaceShip 1. After rocket burnout, the spacecraft coasts up to space and back.
  • White Knight 2: The mother ship that carries SpaceShip 2 to launch altitude.

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