Team Ursa and its partner, Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, find space exploration to be a potent motivator for students and adults alike. By using the sub-orbital aerospace platform, Team Ursa works with Mavericks to inspire students and communities to invest in STEM through the development of open-source reference designs. These reference designs are intended for the educational and research community’s use to further younger generations’ involvement in STEM, and aid in making sub-orbital space a more accessible laboratory for students.
Team Ursa’s mission is to partner with the Mavericks, and to support and contribute to the lineup of Mavericks reference designs. The team does this by running its own small research projects on specific components, which may be given to Mavericks for publication to the public once they have been proven reliable. These designs are either embarked upon of the team’s own volition or are requested by Mavericks to fill gaps in their offerings; often the development process involves the team building entire research launch vehicles on which to test these designs. Such vehicles and development costs have been largely financially supported by the Maine Space Grant Consortium.
Envision local middle school students working on a project in science class. The students are excited about the idea of putting one of their experiments in space. This is a powerful motivator, but the concept of placing an experiment in space is a fantasy for most schools. The process of creating a launch vehicle not only requires a vast amount of time, education, and resources, but also does not provide the students with the time to complete the experiment in the first place--it's just not feasible.
Previously, any institution interested in experimenting in space (even sub-orbital) either had to reinvent the wheel and design a launch vehicle themselves or buy costly rides on full-scale commercial or government launch vehicles. This is not a methodology that allows technology to blossom and grow, let alone allow the excitement of space to extend into the classroom. In fact, this has made simple and valuable sub-orbital space experimentation nearly impossible. This applies to schools and small technology businesses alike.
Team Ursa and Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation hope that the designs they will provide to middle schools will extend their laboratories out of this world-- literally. Their experiments reaching space would no longer be a fantasy; it would be a dream come true.
Team Ursa is partnered with Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation which works with the educational community to inspire students in STEM fields. Specifically, Mavericks provides schools with open-source reference designs as well as mentorship to grant students the opportunity to fly payloads into sub-orbital space. Team Ursa is a major contributor to Mavericks’ repository of reference designs, and has the necessary experience to do local outreach with schools and students.
The flow of research and development that Ursa participates in is as follows: Mavericks or Ursa identifies a gap in the current reference design capabilities; Ursa starts the development cycle on that capability; Ursa will often build several prototypes and even its own research vehicle on which to test a component; if the reference design is deemed ready, the design will be adopted by Mavericks as a part of their offerings to students and schools.
Ursa also occasionally mentors high school and undergraduate student teams using reference designs through Mavericks, and assists in introducing any improvements students make back into the system. This is the beauty of open source; advancements and improvements in technology are licensed to the community for use by everyone.
Most of our designs are test flown in the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada. We have a strong contingency in Maine, where many of us went to school; and our partners, the Mavericks are based in the greater Silicon Valley area.
The team is comprised primarily of engineers spread acros the entire US, communicating remotely and occasionally meeting to assembly and fly hardware. See the team page to learn more! Team Ursa also works closely with the people within the Mavericks foundation as well as the Maine Space Grant Consortium.
Ursa was founded in 2011 when many of the members were still students at the Unversity of Maine. See the history page to learn more!