During her 10-week internship in Moscow, Rachel Price (Aeronautics and Astronautics ’18) was tasked with writing a preliminary design report for a near-Earth asteroid exploration platform.
Rachel Price in Moscow in 2017.

“My job began with assembling existing information on the platform’s development into a single design report,” she says. “And then moved into de-conflicting different subsystems and pointing out discrepancies. I found issues in system planning and helped ensure everyone was on the same page.”

Price explains that determining the composition of the asteroids would give insight on the formation of different celestial bodies, and the minerals in asteroids could potentially be harvested for commercial use. “In order for the commercial missions to be economically viable, access to such asteroids needs to be cheaper and faster,” she shares.

Previous successful asteroid exploration missions, such as the Japanese Hayabusa missions, have long development cycles, and are heavy and expensive and thus aren’t plausible for small space agencies or companies to carry out. “Dauria’s efforts in developing an inexpensive and rapidly-built exploration platform were very timely. I was excited to be a part of it.”

Interacting with a new culture

“MISTI taught me that observing isn’t enough when it comes to a new culture – you have to engage,” Price shares. “Some of my best experiences were the times I went out of my comfort zone – like taking an overnight train by myself or asking my coworker questions about the subsystem he was designing. It made me feel that I was getting the most I could out of Russia.”

Price adds: “This experience changed how I approach my classes and activities at MIT now. I feel I’m more confident and more willing to take risks.”

  • Russia
  • Internship
  • Aero-Astro