Photo: NASA

The Columbia Space Initiative is a student space science, engineering, and outreach club founded in 2015. It serves as an umbrella organization for mission teams that are designing satellites and astronaut tools, building rockets, conducting microgravity experiments, and teaching NYC’s next generation that there’s Space for them in STEM.

Recently, we sent a payload to the International Space Station, got NASA funding for a satellite launch by 2027 , and launched our first hybrid rocket! In the past, we have tested devices in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, presented official mission proposals at Cape Canaveral, and launched high altitude balloons (with Roaree onboard!).

We’ve hosted over twenty space-related public events featuring astronauts and other champions of the space industry, often with over 200 students and community members attending. In addition, we conduct outreach programs for public middle school students around New York City, including events at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum and NY Hall of Science, an annual week-long summer camp experience in Pennsylvania, and auditorium lessons that give students hands-on experience with research and engineering. Last year, we taught over 500 students about space fundamentals and had them design and launch their own model rockets!

Because Columbia does not offer an aerospace degree program, our club offers the only opportunity for students to pursue or discover their interests in space technology and outreach. As a collaborative endeavor, these pursuits have taught us hands-on engineering skills that aren’t built in the classroom, fostered new passions for science research and communication, and grown CSI to be the largest STEM organization at Columbia. Our members and alumni succeed during their internships at organizations like Boeing, SpaceX, and NASA, have continued to higher education at universities including MIT, Stanford, and Georgia Tech, and have earned some of the world’s most prestigious fellowships along the way.

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