Guided by years of spacecraft development history, the UNP structure is divided into four distinct phases. Successful completion of each phase is accomplished through specific entrance and exit criteria. Phases include various reviews and program down-selects intended to help as many teams as possible achieve successful spacecraft mission operations.

The UNP Program Office assists university teams throughout the development process in a variety of ways, including facilitating educational opportunities, meetings, reviews, and supplied resources. UNP spacecraft that meet Phase C exit criteria are launched through the Space Experiments Review Board and the Space Test Program (STP).

Phase A

Design and Development

  • Select ~10 programs
  • Funding for universities provided by AFOSR
  • Hold 6 design reviews
  • Hold satellite development workshops and telecons
  • Hold down-select review
  • Emphasize design process from system concept to critical design review maturity

Phase B

Assembly, Integration, and Test

  • Begin system level testing and integration practices
  • Regular meetings held with Program Office
  • Hold satellite fabrication hands-on workshops
  • Review criteria focused on flight build
  • Final testing of integrated satellite and completion of UNP test metrics

Phase C

Environmental Test

  • Phase is facilitated at AFRL
  • Students participate with AFRL Program Office during entire test campaign
  • Spacecraft environmental testing, including bake out, thermal cycling and vacuum, and vibration testing
  • Launch preparation activities with STP & Launch Vehicle (LV)

Phase D

Mission Operations

  • University teams operate spacecraft
  • AFRL serves and advises in operations and data transfer