By Robert Bell. On November 18, SSPI presented a cash award to students of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, who had recently formed a chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space USA and decided to participate in our 2017 “Connecting the Space Economy” research competition. Adding to the drama of the award, the team had completed work while Hurricane Maria bore down on the island, and submitted it just days after the storm struck with such devastating force.

The team was advised by SSPI Mentor and Hall of Fame member Dr. Denis Curtin, who also connected team members with engineering colleagues including Tom Butash, an engineering fellow at BAE Systems. We thank them for the generous donation of their time and expertise to this project. 


UPRM’s Lee Roger accepts his team’s award from Boeing’s Noelle Zietsman and SSPI’s Robert Bell

International Partnership Communications Network

“Connecting the Space Economy” was a broad assignment, but the UPRM team bravely chose to consider it as broadly as possible. They envisioned a 30-year program that would develop a constellation of satellites in GEO orbit and lunar orbit, complemented with two relay satellites at the Lagrange points defined by the overlap of Earth and lunar gravity, and a space station at Earth’s L4 Lagrange point. The point of this complex constellation was to support not only communications between Earth and the Moon but also deep space missions beyond lunar orbit. The high cost of the program, which they estimated at $357 billion, would require a partnership of multiple nations and companies to execute.

Team Members

The UPRM team is made up of undergraduate physics students at the university. They are:

Learn More

You can read the full report of the UPRM team here. See a full description of the Connecting the Space Economy competition, conducted in partnership with the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.