Leading the way into space

Coast Guard Academy graduate Ensign Anita Green led a group of cadets on a capstone project to design a cube satellite meant to travel in space on a polar orbit to allow Coast Guard and other partner agencies to monitor icebergs. In theory, the satellites could save the U.S. millions of dollars. Green hopes her work on the project and in the Coast Guard lead to a career as an astronaut.

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Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin


The Coast Guard Academy is developing leaders who will operate at the cutting edge of space technology and who are prepared to lead others into the great unknown.

Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet Anita Green (now ensign), a Clermont, Florida, native, led the Coast Guard Corps of Cadets as this semester’s regimental commander, and led her group capstone project: Design, Build, and Test a Cube Satellite, paving her way toward becoming an astronaut.

As the regimental commander, Green adopted a focus on inspirational leadership with three major proponents: motivation, dedication and the ability to lead by example.

leading RC
First Class Cadet Anita Green prepares to lead the Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets in an Academy Regimental Review on Washington Parade Field, in New London, Conn., May 2, 2019.
As the regimental commander, Green led the Corps in all public events.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Second Class Cadet Zach Kayser.

“I try to inspire people,” said Green. “I believe in inspiration-based leadership because it calls members to want to act versus knowing they have to.”

As the regimental commander, Green was responsible for representing the Corps of Cadets at official functions and serving as the senior cadet at all parades and ceremonies. She was also responsible for maintaining a high state of morale within the Corps.

“I believe a major component of inspirational leadership is having the ability to make people want to better themselves, or the organization, for the sake of unity,” said Green.

“To me, how to motivate others to do this is through action. It is essential that one show enthusiasm during any evolution, not only to set the proper working environment, but also motivate people to want to perform.”

The regimental commander is front and center at all Corps of Cadets events; she was the first cadet most guests met when they arrived at the Academy and the last they saw as they left.

First Class Cadet Anita Green poses for a photo with Rear Adm. James Rendon, Coast Guard Academy superintendent; Coast Guard Capt. Daniel Burbank; and Marine Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr., at the Academy in New London, Conn., March 27, 2019.
Burbank and Bolder are both NASA Astronauts.
U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin.

As the regimental commander, Green introduced guest speakers during Corps-wide events and presented them with a gift at the end of the speech. Some of the guest speakers were well-known authors, ambassadors, astronauts, public speakers and Coast Guard leaders.

Some of the guest speakers Green had the honor of introducing this semester were: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, educator, advocate, and mathematician, who at the age of 12 spent several days in jail with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement; Greg Harden, a mentor to athletes like Tom Brady, Desmond Howard and Michael Phelps; Dr. Beverly Tatum, author of the widely acclaimed book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race”; and NASA Astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr.

“It is very humbling to get to meet these great people,” said Green. “I am honored that I get to introduce them to the Corps and then present them with the thank you gift.”

A time-honored tradition at the Academy is for the guest speaker to raise their gift high in the air after receiving it to show the Corps. Not attending the Academy, most guest speakers have to be taught by Green what to do. Once the gift is in the air, the Corps will cheer and whoop loudly.

First Class Cadet Anita Green steps back as Adm. Karl Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard, hoists a miniature Coast Guard Cutter Eagle into the air after receiving it as a gift from the Corps of Cadets during an event at the Academy in New London, Conn., March 5, 2019.
It is a time-honored tradition for guest speakers to hold the gift in the air for the Corps of Cadets.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Miranda Brudzinski.

“Green, our regimental commander, has continued to impress throughout the entire semester,” said First Class Cadet Jean-Michel Depew, former Bravo Company commander.

“When faced with extreme challenges, she has led the Corps through a path of healing and constant improvement. It has been a pleasure to work under her leadership and I look forward to any opportunity to work with her in the future.”

Depew, joined First Class Cadets Josh Gumbleton, Nicholas Frystak, and Warren Chan together on their mechanical engineering capstone project lead by Green.

“I was happy the team chose me to lead,” said Green. “Our team is amazing and works well together so I didn’t have too hard of a time keeping everyone on track.”

Their project was to design, build, and test a cube satellite for the Coast Guard’s future use in detecting and monitoring icebergs in the Polar Regions.

“In theory, the satellite we design would travel in space on a polar orbit allowing the Coast Guard and other partner agencies to monitor icebergs as part of the Coast Guard’s International Ice Patrol mission,” said Depew, who was the group’s leader when Green was away.

“Right now, the U.S. spends almost $10 million a year on plane flights over the Arctic to detect and monitor icebergs. One cube satellite costs $100,000 to $150,000 each and last for up to three years. These satellites could save us millions of dollars.”


Satellites orbiting the Earth will the give the Coast Guard more information than just iceberg locations.

“We can look at problems in other places in the world too,” said Depew. “We can monitor illegal fishing, migrant and drug operations, even possibly help with search and rescue missions.”

Keeping the group on track and meeting their academic deadlines was not all Green had to do in the group. She was instrumental in the design and building of the satellite’s bipod flexures, which are crucial in allowing the camera lens to move during launch, but not move enough to damage anything.

After completing the design and building the satellite, the group traveled to the U.S. Naval Academy to conduct vibration tests, which simulate a rocket launch. This test allows the team to determine if the satellite will become damaged during launch or malfunction in other ways.

Chan took point for the group on researching and learning about the methodology and mechanics behind vibration testing. He also worked out the logistics of the trip to Annapolis for the testing.

“Most of the first semester I spent doing research that was based around something that seemed so far in the future I was a little scared we weren’t going to get to it,” said Chan.

“It was incredibly rewarding to get to this semester and see the CubeSat come together and realize we’d actually get the opportunity to test. When we got into the testing room and were waiting for the machine to start up I think I was by far the most nervous one in the room. I could definitely feel my heart beating in my chest. Once we passed the first test and got good data, each test came and went pretty quickly. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just as nervous for each one. When it finally ended and we removed the satellite from the testing apparatus we all had that ‘wait… we did it’ moment. It was awesome.”

“So Proud of First Class Cadet Anita Green,” said Cmdr. Royce James, Green’s physics professor. “She received one of the six out of 100 undergraduate physics best presentation awards at the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics Conference in Portland, Oregon.”
Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Academy Department of Science.

Dr. Jin Kang, an associate professor in the U.S. Naval Academy Aerospace Engineering Department and director of the Naval Academy Small Satellite Program worked with the group at the Naval Academy for the vibration tests.

“I definitely want to give a shout out to Dr. Kang from the Naval Academy,” said Chan. “He not only helped complete testing but he also helped us figure out the logistics of the entire trip. We exchanged countless emails and he really pushed me in the right direction for learning about testing.”

Green’s leadership held the team together, but members worked on their own aspect of the project.

“The entire project was a crazy experience,” said Chan. “Each person in the group really dove in and focused on a specific portion of the project and basically became the leading expert on it at the Academy. I can confidently say that anyone in our group knows more about their topic with regards to CubeSats and space flight than any of the faculty.”

As designing new technology can be difficult, the group was able to work together to reach the goals set by their academic advisors.

corps of cadets reg. staff

“Designing something for space was a challenge, but it was also interesting,” said Frystak, who worked on the satellite’s technology. “There are a lot of small details that apply when something is in space rather than something on the ground. Some of these interesting details were how to deal with hot and cold temperatures, lack of gravity, and how light refracts when looking through the Earth’s atmosphere. Overall, it was a challenge but it was interesting to read and apply designs that should be capable in space.”

The Coast Guard has already launched two cube satellites and several thin satellites into space to start working with Coast Guard missions.

“Cube satellites are the future,” said Gumbleton. “With the low cost of each satellite, pushing out swarms of cube satellites to use in detection and monitoring for missions is the way to go.”

As for Green, her future plans include undergoing Lasik eye surgery so that she can apply to flight school and then onto the NASA aeronautical space program.

“I want to go into space,” said Green. “I plan on doing everything I can to get there.”

Green’s ambition and drive are what sets her apart from others. She has already completed an internship at NASA.

“Green has been the team lead all year. She helps keep the team organized and on task. She makes a great team better,” said Dr. Richard Freeman, the group’s academic advisory.

“Green has already been recognized for her research activities working with Cmdr. Royce James in the class Plasma Physics. She has demonstrated her leadership abilities at Academy, so I believe she will be a leader in STEM activities, and yes, possibly in space.”

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