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NASA Hack Space: February 2010


NASA is announcing a new initiative to launch small cube-shaped satellites for education and not-for-profit organizations. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called picosatellites, having a size of approximately four inches, a volume of about one quart, and weighing no more than 2.2 pounds.

This is NASA's first open announcement to create an agency-prioritized list of available CubeSats. They are planned as auxiliary payloads on launch vehicles already planned for 2011 and 2012.

"We're anticipating some exciting proposals for this pilot program with hopes to break down the barriers to the launching of CubeSats," said Jason Crusan, chief technologist for NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. "There are organizations that have been waiting a long time for a chance to see their satellites fly in space."

Proposed CubeSat payloads must be the result of development efforts conducted under existing NASA-supported activities. Investigations proposed for this pilot project must address an aspect of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations encompassed by NASA's strategic goals and outcomes as identified in the NASA Strategic Plan and/or NASA's Education Strategic Coordination Framework.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) anticipates that launch opportunities for a limited number of CubeSats may be available on launches currently planned for 2011 and 2012. These launch opportunities would constitute a pilot project intended to demonstrate viable launch opportunities for CubeSat payloads as auxiliary payloads on planned missions. The pilot project is intended to support, and will be limited to, CubeSat development efforts conducted under existing NASA-supported activities. The pilot project will be open to not-for-profit and educational organizations ("collaborators").

Full solicitation below

Pave New Worlds, Are We Alone podcast, SETI Institute

"The extra-solar planet count is more than 400 and rising. Before long we may find an Earth-like planet around another star. If we do, and can visit, what next? Stake out our claim on an alien world or tread lightly and preserve it? We'll look at what our record on Earth says about our planet stewardship. Also, whether a massive technological fix can get us out of our climate mess. Plus, what we can learn about extreme climate from our neighbors in the solar system, Venus and Mars."

- Ken Caldeira - Climate scientist from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University
- Keith Cowing - Biologist, and editor of NASAwatch.com (podcast segment)
- Kathryn Denning - Anthropologist at York University in Canada
- Gary Davis - Director of the Joint Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawaii
- David Grinspoon - Curator of the Denver Museum of Science and Nature