New online video resource: learn from experts about NASA Artemis space technology


Debra Levey Larson

homescreen for space tech academyIf you’re interested in space technologies that will put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, you can now learn from experts for free and at your own pace. A collection of videos, each less than 30 minutes long, are creatively packaged as an accessible online course. In all, the videos provide an in-depth look at NASA’s Artemis missions to explore the lunar surface, then apply that new knowledge it to Mars’ missions and beyond.

“The public’s interest in space has grown and so has the number of jobs available in the space industry,” said Heidi Bjerke, STEM senior coordinator for the Illinois Space Grant Consortium with the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “We developed this online video course as a way to meet the high level of interest and encourage students to pursue an education and career with NASA or in space-related STEM industries.”

The open-source course in space technology is under the umbrella of the Illinois Space Tech Academy. There are four thrusts, or modules that can be completed in any order.

go graphicThe Go thrust presents the technologies that will take us back to the moon and on to Mars. It includes videos from experts on nuclear systems, cryogenic fluid management, and advanced propulsion.

land graphicThe Land thrust is about expanded access to diverse surface destinations. The videos in this thrust are about entry, descent, landing, and precision landing.

live graphicThe Live thrust covers sustainable living and working farther from Earth. This thrust includes different capabilities such as: the use of resources in place; advanced power; advanced thermal; advanced materials, structures and construction; and advanced life support and human performance.

explore graphicThe Explore thrust delves deeper into new technologies: next-generation high-performance computing, communications, and navigation to support new discoveries and augment science and exploration missions. This thrust also includes some of the current exploration missions and some additional technologies that have space applications.

excerpt from assessment
An excerpt from one of the course assessments.

For each module, there is a short assessment. Bjerke said people can check their understanding by answering the questions and retake it as often as necessary to pass with an 80 percent mastery and receive a digital badge—a validated indicator of accomplishment. “When they complete all four thrusts, they’ll receive the course digital badge,” she said.

Experts include aerospace engineering faculty Michael Lembeck, Francesco Panerai, Zach Putnam, and Joshua Rovey, and AE alumni David Carroll,( B.S. ’85, M.S. ’86, and Ph.D. ’92) who is the  president and co-founder of CU Aerospace.

The development of Illinois Space Tech Academy began in 2020 with funding from a NASA grant. Illinois was awarded the Foundation Enablers theme with the objective of creating a Massive Open Online Course relevant to Artemis.

The Illinois Space Grant Consortium is part of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program since its inception in 1989. NASA’s Space Grant Consortia operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In addition, NASA partners with more than 1,000 affiliates, including colleges, universities, industry, museums, science centers, nonprofit organizations, and state and local agencies, to enrich science and engineering education, research, and public outreach efforts for NASA's aeronautics and space projects