Photo: NASA

The Columbia Space Initiative is a student space technology and outreach club founded on September 27, 2015. It serves as an umbrella organization for mission teams involved in everything from nanosatellite mechanical design to hosting space policy forums.

Our constitution is here.

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Current Status (Spring Semester 2017)

Please also see our news page for the most recent mission bulletins.

NASA Micro-g NExT Design Challenge

  • Designed a geological sampling device to be used in microgravity conditions and submitted a design proposal to NASA

  • Selected as a participant in NASA’s national Micro-g Design Challenge for the second year in a row, culminating with a testing session at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in mid-May

  • Currently manufacturing the sampling device for initial testing

The Micro-g team's current microgravity surface sampler.

NASA RASC-AL Mission Design Challenge

  • Researched and designed a mission to Mars’ polar ice caps to extract liquid water for in-situ resource utilization

  • Finishing a mission proposal for improvements to NASA’s Low Earth Orbit infrastructure and submitting to NASA’s RASC-AL Mission Design Challenge

CubeSat Design

  • Designed a mission payload that follows nanosatellite standards known as CubeSat standards

  • Fully funded the first hardware purchase for a cubesat with the NY Space Grant and Columbia Investment fund: a Pumpkin brand frame and microcontroller that meet Cubesat standards

Balloons, Rockets, and Aeronautics Design

  • Building a cloud chamber to be launched on our second high altitude balloon. Last year, our first high altitude balloon recorded a journey up to 110,000 ft above sea level and back

  • Machining a custom-built rocket and rocket motor to be tested in the spring

  • Designing a commercial airliner to compete with other university teams in NASA Langley’s Aero Design Challenge

  • Utilizing a multitude of cutting edge technologies such as distributed electric propulsion, twisted wings, and a flying wing design to achieve the goals of cleaner, quieter flight

Columbia Community

  • Co-organized several Extreme Engineering Events with the Mechanical Engineering Department

  • Recruited more than forty continually active members regularly involved in at least one sub-team

  • Financially supported this semester by NASA, Engineering Student Council, Columbia Engineering Alumni Association, and the NY Space Grant

  • Presented NASA Micro-g progress at the New York Hall of Science’s STEM Night and Maker Faire


  • Coordinated informational sessions with Boeing and SpaceX

  • Organized Aerospace Q&A panel to help students find aerospace internships

  • Assisting ESC in organizing an aerospace industry interest panel