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Julie Brisset, Interim Director, Florida Space Institute

Amount Awarded

Funding: $1.5 million recurring; $3 million non-recurring

Matching Funds

Matching: $803,232 recurring; $1.7 million non-recurring

Colleges Represented

College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Optics and Photonics, College of Sciences, College of Business Administration

Project Summary

UCF is already a leader in space research and seeks to lead NASA missions. Taxpayers and investors prefer to fund projects that have been thoroughly tested before flight, and UCF has lacked the kind of facilities that can do so. But that’s all about to change.

Julie Brisset, a physics researcher and interim director of the Florida Space Institute, is leading a team that will use this Academic Excellence Award to develop space hardware testing and integration capabilities at UCF and the personnel to run it all. Having the right resources will not only attract more funding but will also make it easier for UCF researchers to develop space instruments and lead small satellite missions that can be steppingstones to larger, interplanetary missions.
The team includes experts from the College of Optics and Photonics, College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Business and College of Sciences. Two specialized labs will be created: the Space Photonics Lab hosted by the College of Optics and Photonics and the SPICE Fabrication and Testing Lab at UCF’s Exolith Lab, already known for producing extraterrestrial soil for hundreds of commercial companies and NASA to test their space-bound prototypes. The missions will not only explore the solar system but will also provide new technology and innovations that ultimately improve life on Earth. Among the goals:

  • creating a life-size planetary surface reproduction at the Exolith lab where a variety of spaceflight hardware, ranging from rovers to penetrometer to drones, can be tested in realistic conditions;
  • providing integration and testing support to transform planetary and remote sensing instruments into spaceflight-ready instruments;
  • developing new space education certificates – including Space Electronics and Cyber-Physical Systems, Space Resources and Space Economy – to help meet a booming demand for these technical skills triggered by commercial companies such as Blue Origin and Space X in our area;
  • and providing interdisciplinary opportunities to expand the use of small satellites for remote sensing on Earth, such as cultural heritage monitoring and environmental and human impact assessments.


Stephen Eikenberry, Seetha Raghavan, Reza Abdolvand, Daniel Britt, David Hagan, Michael Georgiopoulos, Maggy Tomova, Paul Jarley