Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research into Gigahertz Astrophysical Transient Emission

STARGATE | CARA (Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy: A leading center of deep space research based on radio frequency technologies, plus Space X: Designs manufactures and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecrafts, equals Stargate (Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research into Gigahertz Astrophysical Transient Emission): Fostering the spirit of Silicon Valley in the Rio Grande Valley

Conceived by Dr. Fredrick Jenet, the Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research into Gigahertz Astrophysical Transient Emission (STARGATE) complex will be a public-private partnership between the Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy (CARA) at UTRGV and SpaceX.

As a research center adjacent to SpaceX's future command and control center, STARGATE will develop new radio frequency based (RF) technologies for a wide range of academic and commercial applications. STARGATE will enable our students to be directly involved in all aspects of a space mission, including the design of the spacecraft, testing, launch, and orbital operations. In addition, STARGATE will include a focused business incubator for electronics and RF technology companies. This combination in proximity to a commercial space port will create unique opportunities for collaboration and research, introduce the south Texas region into the aerospace industry, and significantly boosts UTRGV's technical and educational resources.

New Opportunities

The development of STARGATE has prompted the UT system to designate CARA the first research unit of the new UT Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).

STARGATE will develop new radio frequency based technologies. STARGATE has already identified specific, innovative devices and improved algorithms that will soon allow for the next generation of orbital communication systems. This new technology will be the first wave of inventions commercialized at STARGATE.

CARA has already established UTRGV as an important research center in astrophysics, but STARGATE will give worldwide recognition to the new UT university as a leading research institution.

STARGATE gives UT researchers a competitive edge for state and federal funding. Once the new technologies are ready for commercial production, the markets they can serve are huge (over $60B/year). 

A Proven Team

The team behind STARGATE has proven experience in winning competitive research grants, invention, and commercialization. Now, thanks to the STARGATE proposal, they have also garnered international interest for new collaborations from industry, government, and scientific partners.

UTRGV's CARA has developed tools used by researchers around the world for processing signals from radio pulsars. That prior effort gives STARGATE a competitive advantage in the development of tools needed for the next generation of orbital RF communication. Adding SpaceX's celebrated innovation ability to the mix will boost the team's production.

STARGATE has already established collaboration with manufacturing companies with experience in electronics, radio, and aerospace components. Their specific expertise will ensure STARGATE's designs are commercially viable and help speed prototyping and development.

STARGATE has cultivated support from the community and is seeking funding from various sources to ensure sustainability for the program. Possible contributors include the Brownsville Economic Development Council and the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, the State of Texas Emerging Technology Fund, UT System, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

For its Technical Advisory Committee, STARGATE has initial commitments from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Naval Research Labs, the Arecibo Radio Observatory, Cornell University Department of Space Science, and SpaceX.

Capabilities and Resources

Students, Staff, Faculty, and community members associated with the STARGATE program have access to a wide range of value added resources and capabilities including: 

  • CARA’s proven local team of experts in space exploration. 
  • CARA's network of world renowned scientists/engineers with expertise in space exploration, space missions, RF technologies, signal processing, and "Big Data."  
  • Professional PhD level  student associates in  Physics, Astrophysics, Engineering, Computer Science, Business, 
  • 15,000 sq-ft facility co-located with SpaceX at Boca Chica Beach which provides: 
    • Office and laboratory space 
    • Incubator space for companies 
    • Electronics lab for prototyping and developing RF instruments  (see Equipment List) 
    • Fast access to the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT Austin 
  • Elevated launch priority for CubeSats 
  • Conventional RF dish systems for training and instrument development.    
  • Industry mentoring program for students 
  • Community outreach and education resources through its involvement in the STARGATE Talks lecture series 
  • Through its collaboration with the Houston Technology Center, STARGATE also offers: 
    • Strategic advice, operational guidance to startups companies to accelerate the process to become successful high growth technology business 
    • Access to experienced technology startup company mentors  
    • Access to NewSpace venture capital investors. 


The South Texas region has unique demographic challenges in the United States. Improving the technical workforce pipeline is one of them. UTRGV's Arecibo Remote Command Center (ARCC) program has already boosted the numbers of physics graduates with Masters or PhDs in the region. STARGATE will also be integrated into that pipeline to further expand the number of opportunities, and the demand for graduates with advanced mathematics, physics, and engineering degrees in South Texas. In its first decade, ARCC has already obtained some dramatic results, and STARGATE is expected to multiply them.

Future Plans

STARGATE will do more than just the core research functions. Within 5 years of being built and operational, STARGATE intends to:

  • Establish an industry mentoring program for students
  • Publish listings of the available equipment for researchers, businesses, and incubator members
  • Host a business plan competition
  • Host a entrepreneurship/angel investing forum
  • Publish reports on commercialization successes and host showcase events for the public