MUOS Launch Engages Local Students in STEM

STEM Outreach at MUOS-4 Launch

Before sunrise on Wednesday, Sept. 2, Lockheed Martin’s fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-4) satellite launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite, whose capabilities focus on revolutionizing communications for mobile forces, is the product of many hours’ worth of elite engineering. Just a few miles down the road is Ronald McNair Magnet School, where nearly 500 seventh and eighth grade students engaged in an engineering design challenge of their own in connection with this launch.  

Guided by about 60 Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance (ULA) volunteers—some from the Military Space team responsible for MUOS-4 and others as part of a Launch Experience Award Program—the entire middle school worked together to test theories and problem solve to create a solution within their constraints. The students needed to build a structure 60 centimeters (almost two feet) tall that supports a bag of food for the school’s canned food drive—using nothing but index cards and cellophane tape—in about 20 minutes. As they created their designs, students kept cost in mind as each index card represented $1,000 and each centimeter of tape represented $100. The teams that built the strongest structures using the least amount of materials were the challenge winners.  

The Building Blocks of Elite Engineering

This familiar balance between effective design and cost is something that rings true with any professional engineer. The challenge tested the students’ ingenuity, versatility and ability to perform under both time and cost constraints—all of which are key to succeeding in any career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Benishek, remarked that, "America's strength—the Navy's strength—has always been its ability to marshal brainpower and creativity. Our nation's future success depends on programs like STEM because it helps inspire and encourage young minds to bring together their ideas and create beneficial solutions that will help address the challenges that lie ahead."

Mark Valerio, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Military Space line of business, also stressed the importance of the STEM activity following the launch. 

“When you see something like a launch that’s larger than life, it can be a challenge to connect it to something visible in everyday life. With these STEM events, we’re showing students the smaller building blocks that are vital to the technology pipeline that feeds our ongoing journey to space.”

Mark Valerio Supports STEM Education

Mark Valerio, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Military Space line of business, joins in as a team builds their structure.  

Inspiring Through "Launch and Learn" Activities

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is committed to working with schools and educators to expose students to the industry and foster interest in careers in STEM fields through its “Launch and Learn” program. Through STEM activities closely tied to launches, teachers and students can strengthen their content knowledge, thereby improving the learning experience in the classroom.  

Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, is the MUOS prime contractor and system integrator. The Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office in San Diego, California, are responsible for the MUOS program. The Lockheed Martin-built MUOS-4 satellite will launch Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Lockheed Martin is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work. Lockheed Martin invests more than $25 million worldwide to nonprofit organizations, focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and military/veteran causes. In addition, employees donate $20 million annually to various organizations through workplace-giving campaigns and volunteer an average of 1 million hours each year.

Volunteers at MUOS-4 STEM Event

Volunteers at the MUOS-4 STEM activity at Ronald McNair Magnet School.