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accident, a contamination event in a thermal vacuum chamber, vibration test anomalies, damage due to handling during inspections, late-stage instrument repair, and regression testing. Yet, the student team persevered and the REXIS flight instrument was delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in December 2015. The real success of the REXIS story is that of the students who made this instrument possible. Over the course of the program approximately 60 students contributed to the instrument development, build, and delivery. The core REXIS team comprised 16 graduate students spanning the four-year program. Most students were from AeroAstro, but the team also included students from Mechanical Engineering and Electrical The real success of the REXIS Engineering and Computer Science as well as Earth, Atmostory is that of the students who spheric, and Planetary Sciences. More than 40 undergraduates made this instrument possible. supported the team through the AeroAstro capstone class and MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. One student, Mark Chodas began as a senior in the capstone class and has continued as a graduate student on REXIS. At the time of this writing he is in his PhD program and will have seen REXIS through as system engineer from requirements development to launch, an outstanding experience and accomplishment for an early-career engineer. Former REXIS students now work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Oracle, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Lincoln Laboratory. Others are training to be fighter pilots for the Air Force or are stationed at the National Reconnaissance Office and the Los Angeles Air Force Base. REXIS will carry each of their contributions into interplanetary space, and in turn, each student carries the REXIS experience into future careers. REBECCA MASTERSON (Mechanical Engineering ’97, SM ’99, PhD ’04) is a research engineer in the AeroAstro Space Systems Lab. She provided engineering guidance for the REXIS student team and overall instrument management. Her research interests include dynamics and controls, integrated modeling, control structure interactions, systems engineering, and engineering management. She may be reached at

Rendezvous with Rexis


MIT AeroAstro annual magazine 2015-2016Aeroastro 2015 16  

Annual magazine review of MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department research and educational initiatives.

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