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Antunes, Dr. Alex "Sandy"

Dr. Alex "Sandy" Antunes

Professor, Astronautical Engineering


Dr. Alex "Sandy" Antunes is a professor of astronautical engineering at Capitol Technology University.  He mentors and manages undergraduate payload projects that are student conceived and student led, including the Cactus-1 CubeSat mission and two summers with Brazil's “Science without Borders” exchange program, and has been a member of the NASA Academy of Aerospace Quality (AAQ) advisory board since 2015. His recent publications address open source satellite work, cheap deployable sensors, machine learning, and engineering education. In addition to scientific research on solar physics, X-ray binaries, and collisional remnants, he has written five "DIY" technical books for O'Reilly/Maker Media on amateur space and machine learning topics. Prior work includes spacecraft science operations and astrophysics work at GSFC, solar physics at NRL under an NRC fellowship, design of the DIY TubeSat “Project Calliope”, and freelance science writing.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Physics
  • Computational science
  • CubeSats and small satellites
  • Space operations
  • Scripting
  • Game design
  • Remote sensing
  • High performance supercomputing
  • Astronomy



  • B.S., Astronomy & Physics from Boston University
  • M.S., Astronomy from Pennsylvania State University
  • Ph.D, Computational Astrophysics from George Mason University

Professional Achievements

  • PI for NASA CSLI CubeSat launch opportunity grant 2015-2017, 
  • Lead for Capitol's collaboration with Brazil "Science Without Borders" 2015 & 2016  

Certifications & Licenses

  • Basic Analysis and Design USA (Certificate of Graduate School 1986
  • FAA Technicians Class License (KB3VNB)

Honors & Awards 

  • Capitol Faculty Teacher of the Year 2013
  • Researcher of the Year 2013 and 2015

Research & Publications

  • 2015, NASA/AAQ,  “Using HAB for Rapid Development”, Antunes, Shrenk, Gesterling & Walters
  • 2015, GSFC Engineering Colloquium, “CubeSats: Innovation and Risk in the (tiny) New Space Frontier”
  • 2015, World MakerFaire, “How Much Damage Can You Do From Space”
  • 2015, DIY Comms and Control for Amateur Space, O'Reilly Media 
  • 2014, ASEE, “The Neglected Art of Sourcing in Engineering Education”, Antunes & Raab
  • 2014, Aus. J. of Telcom, 'Cheap Deployable Networked Sensors for Environmental Use' 2014, AAS, 
  • 2014, “Profiling Near-Earth Debris Using PicoSatellites”,  Antunes, Shrenk, Bormanis,  Walters & White
  • 2014, World Makerfaire, “CubeSats: Toys or Real Science?”
  • 2014, featured on The Big Picture with Kal Penn, 'Space Invasion' 
  • 2014, 'Your Own Satellite: 7 Things to Know Before You Go', Make Magazine
  • 2013, AIAA, “Constrained Multi-Altitude Design by 3-D Printed CubeSat Usings”, Antunes, Walters, Bormanis & Shrenk
  • 2013, ASP talk, “Scenario Crisis Cases in Distance Learning Sessions”, Antunes & Walters
  • 2013, DIY Instruments for Amateur Space, O'Reilly Media 
  • 2012, Surviving Orbit the DIY Way, O'Reilly Media 
  • 2012, DIY Satellite Platforms, O'Reilly Media 
  • 2012, 'Comic books in the physics classroom', Physics Today 
  • 2011, 'The Challenge of Gifted Education', Physics Today 

Organizations & Affiliations

  • Board member NASA Academy of Aerospace Quality (AAQ) 2015-2017
  • Member of: American Astronomical Society (AAS), American Geophysical Union (AGU), National Association of Science Writers (NASW), American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), International Game Developers Association (IGDA) 

Volunteer/Service Experience

  • PI on NSF "Capitol Scholars Program" grant
  • Flower HS Mentor 2013 & 2016 
  • MakerFaire 2015 & 2016 
  • PGTAG 

Portfolio/Personal Website