On Friday January 31, 7:15 a.m. watch the live footage of the cargo craft's separation from the International space station carrying NNU's MakerSat satellite.


The NNU RFTSat (Radio Frequency Tag Satellite) CubeSat team is designing and building a 3U CubeSat to demonstrate the application of radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting and backscatter communication to the problem of distributed sensing in space. A small RF tag will be mounted on the side of the satellite and contain a temperature sensor. The tag will not contain a battery, but will be powered by energy emitted from an RF reader inside the satellite. The tag’s sensor data will be wirelessly sent back to the reader via backscatter communication, and then to the Earth via a Globalstar satellite constellation link. RF tags equipped with sensors could be added to a spacecraft, like the ISS, without additional wires or power supplies and provide a means to monitor structural integrity, space weather, or make sensitive electric/magnetic field measurements.

You can follow RFTSat's orbit around the Earth



Mission Objectives

NNU RFTSat expects to launch in 2019 with the objective of demonstrating the use of RF energy harvesting and backscatter communication in the space environment. The objectives of the mission are:
  • Demonstrate RF energy harvesting and backscatter communication for a passive, sensor tag
  • Demonstrate an extendable boom for precision movement of sensor tag away from the RF reader
  • Measure received RF power backscattered from the RF tag and temperature at the tag

Project Team

Quentin Frederick
Julie Cox
Kaleb Davis
Dakota Lindsay
Dr. Joshua Griffin - PI
Dr. Steve Parke - Co-PI
Dr. Dan Lawrence - Co-PI
Curtis Garner
Anysja Manzer
Hannah Thomas
Cassie Wade
Daniel Slemmer
Jordan Poundstone
Lucas Schamber
Brandon Pankey


This project is jointly funded by a 2016 NASA Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP) Student Flight Research Opportunity (SFRO) grant and Northwest Nazarene University. We also want to acknowledge our project partners; without them, this project would not be possible!


RFTSat: Radio Frequency Tag CubeSat 
July 27, 2016
Idaho Conference on Undergraduate Research, Boise, Idaho
Download: PDF [967 KB]

RFTSat: Backscatter Radio for In-Orbit Distributed Sensing 
July 2017
Idaho Conference on Undergraduate Research, Boise, Idaho
Download: PDF [1274 KB]

Since 2017, NNU undergraduate teams have been working with NASA to build and launch 3 different satellites (and counting) into space. With an engineering degree, the sky really is the limit!