California Space Grant Consortium Alumna Selected for Artemis Missions

One of our very own California Space Grant Consortium alumna, Jessica Watkins, was recently selected to be part of NASA’s initial 18-member team of astronauts  – nine men and nine women – for the upcoming Artemis missions to the moon.  She was chosen by Vice President Mike Pence to begin training for the return to the moon and explore living on the lunar surface by 2024.

Jessica Watkins was born in Maryland, raised in Colorado and went on to earn her undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Geological and Environmental Sciences. She then pursued her graduate degree in Geology at the University of California, Los Angeles and was a California Space Grant Consortium (CaSGC) fellow in 2010. Her graduate research focused on Mars soil simulant and she had several internships with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).

“Years ago when Jessica Watkins applied to UCLA for graduate school we were thrilled as she already had shown what a great student she was in her undergraduate institution that to this day has her picture on their walls”, recalls Christopher Russell, Distinguished Professor at the Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We were happy to make her a UCLA Space Grant scholar. And we are proud of her achievements at UCLA which served as a stepping stone to her entering the Astronaut corps and being selected for the lunar program. Her former classmates know that she has further ambitions. She also has her eyes on Mars. We wish her well in all her aspirations and are extremely proud of her and her achievements.” 

The Artemis program is a collaborative effort between NASA and international partners to establish a long term presence on the moon. This lunar base could potentially act as a launching point for further space exploration by mankind. There is also the goal to have the first woman land on the moon. 

The California Space Grant Consortium supports the exploration of space research spanning from pre-college engagement to workforce training. We are excited for Jessica Watkin’s role in this endeavor and proud to have been a small part of her past research experience.

2021 NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth & Space Science Internship

 Current High School Sophomores and Juniors
Application Deadline: February 22, 2021
NASATexas Space Grant Consortium, and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research Summer Intern Program is a nationally competitive STEM program for high school students. The program provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. Interns will learn how to interpret NASA satellite data while working with scientists and engineers in their chosen area of work.
Scientists and Engineers at UT/CSR are conducting NASA supported research on astronomy, remote sensing, and space geodetic techniques to help understand Earth systems, natural hazards and climate science. This summer TSGC and UT/CSR will support a summer intern program where interns will complete distance learning modules prior to July 1, work remotely July 1-15, 2021 with project mentors prior to the on-site internship July 17 – July 31, 2021. In addition, those selected will present their research virtually in the SEES Science Symposium August 2-4. Housing, meals, and local transportation will be provided for those selected. A limited number of travel scholarships to Texas are available. The summer intern program will allow interns to view and investigate NASA remote sensing data, mission design, analysis of ice sheets, Earth’s gravity field, and other observations while being mentored by project scientists.
We are offering summer internships to motivated high school students who have an interest in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics careers. The interns will work beside NASA subject matter experts analyzing and visualizing data. This content knowledge, coupled with hands-on experiences, allows the intern to gain experience in authentic NASA research through field investigation and data analysis.
Interns are selected on the basis of their academic records, written application that includes answers to essay questions, introduction video, letter of recommendation, transcript and interest in STEM. The deadline for submitting your application for the summer 2021 internship program is February 22, 2021. For more information please contact:


We are proud to announce the launch of the Zed Factor Fellowship (ZFF), a space internship and community outreach program.

Founded by a group of space professionals from diverse backgrounds, the Zed Factor Fellowship empowers and engages learners and aspiring aerospace professionals from underrepresented backgrounds through hands-on, practical experiences working in and contributing to the leading companies of the aerospace community.

We hope you will alert all students about this innovative, community-centered aerospace internship program. Please note, not all applicants need to have a technical background – there will be some positions available for non-engineers who have a passion for the aerospace industry.  Another differentiating factor to the ZFF is that all fellows will create and conduct their own community service project, amplifying the impact of each fellowship far beyond one individual.  

Applications are currently being accepted for placement with leading aerospace companies for internships beginning in late spring/early summer 2021. More information can be found at our website, and questions can be directed to  The deadline for applications is January 4th, 2021.

We look forward to receiving applications from your institution’s aspiring aerospace professionals who may not currently see role models that represent them in the aerospace industry.  Together we will create an aerospace industry and technical cadre of professionals comprising of people of all backgrounds, creating a more inclusive, well-rounded and ultimately more impactful and effective nation and world.

NASA Space Life Sciences Internship Applications Open

Apply now

The primary goal of the Space Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) is to train the next generation of scientists and engineers, enabling NASA to meet future research and development challenges in the space life sciences. The SLSTP provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to perform cutting-edge research and discover exciting careers in Space Biology at NASA’s Ames Research Center located in Silicon Valley, California. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 internship was held virtually, and the 2021 program will be held remotely as well. Interns are paired with a mentor for individual research projects in areas such as molecular, cell, organismal or synthetic biology, bioinformatics or bioengineering.  In addition, the cohort of interns designs and executes a group project.

The SLSTP is an equal opportunity program. Admission is by competitive application process. Past student participants were selected for their outstanding merit, passion for space, and desire to study space life science. Applicants must fulfill the following requirements:

  • be a US citizen*
  • be in high academic standing (GPA of 3.2 or greater)
  • have a minimum age of 18
  • be a junior or senior undergraduate student next Fall
    — or —
    a senior graduating in 2020 and entering graduate school next Fall.
  • have a passion for space and a desire to study space life science

*Citizens of US territories Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Marianas are U.S. citizens. Permanent Resident foreign nationals, Legal Resident Aliens, Work Permit holders, and Illegal Immigrants are not eligible.

The SLSTP Intern Program application deadline is January 5, 2021.  The 10-week program begins on June 7, 2021 and ends August 13, 2021. Interns accepted into the program receive a stipend. Financial support is also provided to interns who submit an accepted abstract as first author to the annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research. 

StellarXplorers:National High School Space Challenge

StellarXplorers is a challenging, space system design competition involving all aspects of system development and operation with a spacecraft and payload focus.

Teams can come from any organized youth organization such as a high school (including home schools), JROTC, CAP, School Clubs, Boy/Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs. Teams consist of an adult Team Director (usually a teacher) and two to six students. We need to emphasize is YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A SPACE EXPERT to have a team. You only need to find students interested in learning about space. Participation is free until after teams have had the opportunity to compete for the first qualifying round. There is a nominal $200 registration fee for each team, with waivers available to Title I schools upon request.

How does it work?

StellarXplorers provides specific training in the use of system simulation software, Systems Tool Kit (STK) as well as an online textbook as a curriculum supplement and study resource for online “team” Quizzes given during the competition. The actual competition is accomplished from the team’s home location. Teams are given a scenario describing the system’s mission and constraints and they provide a solution to a typical space design problem, such as orbit determination, satellite component selection, and launch vehicle planning. Practice Rounds begin in October with Qualification Rounds beginning in November that determine which teams advance to the Semi-Finals in February. The top 10 teams from the Semi-Finals will receive an all-expense-paid trip the National Finals.

How do you get started?

Go to the StellarXplorers Website at Register your team under the Registration Tab. You will not need to identify cadets until after the school year begins. Under the Competition Tab, click on STLX VI Starting Checklist. This gives a step-by-step for getting ready to field a team. Also, we are here to help, so do not hesitate to ask for assistance.

Benefits for Students

This is an exciting hands-on learning experience that develops commercially valuable skills and increases appreciation for the critical role of space in our daily lives. The competition attracts all types of students with diverse backgrounds who will establish their own experiential base off accomplishment, all while building teamwork and leadership skills. Most of all … it is FUN!!!

Benefits for Educators

Relevant and stimulating addition to your classroom with hands-on, real-world STEM applications that are widely embedded into your students’ lives.

Benefits for Sponsors

Offers the chance to “grow your own” future workforce! You’ll have access to a pipeline of talented individuals, interested your business, most U.S. citizens eligible for advanced clearances and uniquely positioned to be your interns and future employees. At the same time, you’ll boost US competitiveness and STEM education, while enhancing your visibility with customers and peers.

Questions? Contact us at

NASA’s 2021 Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge

The 2021 RASC-AL Special Edition: Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge seeks proposals from eligible teams of undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S. to design and build prototype hardwarethat canextract water and assess subsurface density profiles from a simulated off-world test bed to advance critical technologies needed on the surface of the Moon and Mars.
Up to 10 teams will be selected to receive $10,000 to build their proposed concept. Finalist teams will travel to NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, VA* during the summer of 2021 to participate in a multi-day competition where the universities’ prototypes will compete to extract the most water from an analog environment simulating lunar and Martian surfaces, while using system telemetry to distinguish between overburden layers (i.e., prospecting) and create a digital core of the various layers. 
For full competition details, including design parameters, testing environment, and submission guidelines, please visit the RASC-AL Special Edition Website:
Interested student teams and their faculty advisors should submit an online Notice of Intent by October 1, 2020 and a detailed project plan proposal by November 24, 2020.
We invite you to view the NASA feature story announcing the 2021 Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge: “Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge Aims to Break Through More than Just Ice
If you have any questions, please contact the RASC-AL Program Team:
*As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, NASA and NIA will closely monitor and follow guidelines from federal, state, and community officials regarding the onsite competition at NASA LaRC next summer. Protecting the health and safety of team members, staff, and judges is our primary priority.

NextGen STEM CCP Expeditions

The NextGen STEM Commercial Crew Program Google Expeditions have been published by Google!  Here are the links, please note there are web-based versions, as well as app-based versions.  Feel free to take a look around and explore!  We will also be posting them to the NGS CCP web page.


App-based (Expeditions) – takes you to a QR code to scan and open on a mobile device with the Expeditions app:


Open to both undergraduate and graduate students studying fields with applications to human space exploration, NASA’s RASC-AL Competition is an engineering design challenge that allows students to incorporate their coursework into real aerospace design concepts and work together in a team environment. With nearly two decades of history, the RASC-AL Competition is one of NASA’s longest running and most robust student competitions.

Call For Proposals
The 2021 RASC-AL themes range from preparing for the next steps of our return to the Moon, to innovating solutions for returning from Mars, to designing architectures to visit Venus and Ceres. Teams are invited to design and propose innovative solutions with original supporting engineering and analysis in response to one of the following five themes:
Durable Low-Mass Lunar Surface HabitatMinimum Mars Ascent VehicleVenus Flyby MissionHuman Mission to CeresDistributed Lunar Sample Aggregation, Analysis, & Return to ISS

If you have any questions, please contact the RASC-AL Program Team:

NASA’s 2021 Big Idea Challenge Call for Proposals

NASA is seeking robust proposals from universities affiliated with their state’s Space Grant Consortium (or partnered with an affiliated school) to design, build, and test novel dust mitigation (or dust tolerant) technologies for lunar applications. This is an open innovation challenge with minimal constraints so that proposing teams can genuinely create and develop out-of-the-box solutions. Selected teams will receive awards ranging between $50,000 and $180,000 to bring their ideas to life!
Call for Proposals: Dust Mitigation Technologies for Lunar Applications
For the 2021 BIG Idea Challenge, NASA solicits team proposals from Space Grant affiliated universities and colleges for a wide range of unique lunar dust mitigation (or dust tolerant) solutions supported by solid engineering rigor in response to one of the following categories:Landing Dust Prevention and MitigationSpacesuit Dust Tolerance and MitigationExterior Dust Prevention, Tolerance, and MitigationCabin Dust Tolerance and Mitigation
Up to 10 teams will be selected to build their proposed technology for dust mitigation, and will be responsible for setting up and executing their own high-fidelity verification testing, based on what was described in the proposal. Teams are encouraged to be creative and design their own accurate and realistically simulated testing scenarios.
A wide range of award sizes is expected (in the range of $50,000 – $180,000), depending on the scope of the work proposed. It is anticipated that several larger-scope awards (typically $125,000 – $180,000) and several smaller-scope awards (typically $50,000 – $124,000) will receive funding. Proposers are encouraged to request what is actually needed to conduct the proposed work.
Interested and eligible teams of students and their faculty advisors should submit an online Notice of Intent by September 25, 2020. Written and video proposals are due on December 13, 2020. Minority Serving Institutions are encouraged to apply.
Finalist teams will receive funding to build and test their technologies, and will be invited to present their verification testing results to NASA and industry judges at the 2021 BIG Idea Forum, tentatively scheduled for November 17 – 19, 2021.
The 2021 BIG Idea Challenge Call for Proposals Flyer contains more information about this year’s challenge and is ideal for posting in classrooms and departmental bulletin boards. 
For full competition details, including eligibility requirements, design constraints, and submission guidelines, please visit the BIG Idea Website: