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NEWS
Virginia Tech Wins First Place In AIAA Competition
September 8, 2010

Virginia Tech’s design of a reliable and cost effective system to send a minimum of two astronauts to a Near Earth Asteroid and return them safely to earth has won the team first place in the 2010 American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics (AIAA) Team Space Transportation Design Competition.


Pictured is the award winning Virginia Tech aerospace engineering team. From left to right, front row, are: Kristopher Walbert; Umair Surani; and Katie Rybacki. Back row, left to right, are: Joshua Eggleston; Eric Buckenmeyer; and Andrew Lyford.

The Virginia Tech engineering students called themselves Team COLBERT, an acronym for Close Object Landing by Earth Research Team. They named the mission Athena after the Greek goddess of wisdom, due to the amount of insight into the history of the universe that would be gained from the asteroid samples brought back by the astronauts.

The six members of the team, all aerospace engineering majors, were: Josh Eggleston; Kristopher Walbert; Eric Buckenmeyer; Umair Surani; Andrew Lyford, team leader; and Katie Rybacki. The faculty adviser, Kevin Shinpaugh, is the director of research and cluster computing at Virginia Tech and an adjunct faculty member with the aerospace and ocean engineering department.

The focus of the effort was to design a Human Asteroid Exploration System (HAES), with a technology that was feasible for a timeline between 2018 and 2030. The HAES had to provide all of the crew accommodations and life support systems for safe travel. The system also had to devise how the astronauts would explore the asteroid’s surface, how they would be able to use scientific equipment, and how they would transport at least 100 kilograms of asteroid samples back to Earth.

AIAA will honor the team at the AIAA Space 2010 Conference & Exposition Aug. 30th–Sept. 2nd, 2010 at Anaheim, Calif.


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