Recently in the Smallsats Category


NASA: SmallSats Testing Big Technology

During a pre-flight briefing from California's Vandenburg Air Force Base, participants discuss the National Reconnaissance Office's NRO-L55 mission - scheduled to launch Oct. 8 with a host of small satellite technology demonstrators.

They say big things come in small packages, and that's evident with the small satellites that are becoming ubiquitous around NASA centers, university labs and even elementary school science classes.

ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission, being studied for a 2022 arrival at the Didymos double asteroid, involves not just one but four spacecraft.

Equipment and data from the SpinSat investigation returns to Earth today, May 21, 2015, with splashdown of SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft following its release from the International Space Station's robotic arm at 7:04 a.m. EDT.

NASA is extending an opportunity to college and university teams to propose small spacecraft technology projects that they can conduct in collaboration with NASA researchers.

SPINSAT Experiment on ISS

US Astronaut Terry Virts works with the SPINSAT an expimental device aboard the International Space Station that tests movement and positioning of small satellites in space using new technology micro-thrusters.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has released a video from a camera mounted on an exterior panel of TechDemoSat-1, which shows the satellite moments after separation from the Fregat upper stage of its Soyuz-2 launcher, and as it begins its first orbit in Space.

A new fleet of 28 small satellites, called Flock 1, may help provide a perspective of Earth to people like never before.

A small beach ball-sized satellite designed and built by a team of University of Colorado Boulder students to better understand how atmospheric drag can affect satellite orbits is now slated for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15.

NASA has selected 13 university teams for collaborative projects to develop and demonstrate new technologies and capabilities and spur innovation in communication, navigation, propulsion, science instruments, and advanced manufacturing for small spacecraft.

Nanosatellites now have their own mass transit to catch rides to space and perform experiments in microgravity. A new NASA-designed and developed satellite deployer, dubbed the Nano Launch Adapter System (NLAS), is scheduled to demonstrate the capability to launch a flock of satellites into space later this year.

Smartphone Photos From Orbit

These images of Earth were reconstructed from photos taken by three smartphones in orbit, or "PhoneSats." The trio of PhoneSats launched on April 21, 2013, aboard the Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and ended a successful mission on April 27. The ultimate goal of the PhoneSat mission was to determine whether a consumer-grade smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics for a satellite in space.

Kicksat Updates

We've swapped our old crystal oscillator for a temperature-compensated crystal oscillator (TCXO), which will give the Sprites' radios better frequency stability over wide temperature ranges. We've also added a hole and two pins to the board for interfacing with the deployer.

The Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) was developed at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, CA to increase access to space, while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called Nanosats or Cubesats, onto launch vehicles.

Three smartphones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space Sunday aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. SpaceRef has been provided with new details and images.

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center (ARC) is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for Smallsat Technology Partnerships in support of the Small Spacecraft Technology Program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate. Through this CAN, NASA is seeking proposals from colleges and universities across the United States to develop and/or demonstrate new technologies and capabilities for small spacecraft in collaboration with NASA. Projects may be technology development or development of spacecraft or payloads for suborbital, balloon or orbital space flights. NASA intends to enter into cooperative agreements with institutions for selected projects." More

"The tiny spacecraft passenger for Vega's upcoming Flight VV02 is getting the same "white glove" treatment as the launch's two larger payloads, with Estonia's ESTCube-1 student satellite now mission-ready at the Spaceport in French Guiana. In the Spaceport's S1B clean room, ESTCube-1 has been integrated in its box-type dispenser - readying the cubesat for integration in the Vega launcher's payload "stack," along with the Proba-V and VNREDSat-1A passengers. ESTCube-1 is the first Estonian satellite, built by a collaboration of students from Tartu University, Estonian Aviation Academy, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Life Sciences, and was developed in conjunction with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the German Space Center (DLR)." More

"NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) recently selected E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat) as one of 24 small satellites to fly as secondary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016. EcAMSat is being developed through a partnership between NASA's Ames Research Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine. It will be the first NASA mission in the "6U" configuration, with six times the volume of a single cubesat unit ("1U"). Cubesats belong to a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites measure about four inches on each side, have a volume of about one quart, and weigh less than three pounds. Though it is large for a nanosatellite, the 6U EcAMSat weighs only about 30 pounds and measures approximately 14.4 inches long, 8.9 inches wide and 3.9 inches tall." More

"ESA is offering software developers the opportunity to use its new testbed in space. The robust nanosat will allow individuals, companies and institutions to try out pioneering software without the danger of losing a mission. Satellites are so complex and costly that their controllers cannot afford to take risks. The need for reliability means that onboard and ground control software has not altered significantly in the past 20 years. But the tiny Ops-Sat, a CubeSat combining commercial off-the-shelf technology and ESA expertise, is a chance to try out new ideas in space as early as 2015. "This satellite is designed for experimenting with mission-critical software both on board and on the ground," says Dave Evans, Ops-Sat project manager at ESA's European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. "This means it must be flexible, powerful and robust." More

"NASA recently selected cubesat projects for flight opportunities as part of its CubeSat Launch Initiative in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Three of these projects are sponsored by the Space Technology Mission Directorate and are managed by the Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and will be launched by the Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla. These cubesats are research spacecraft that weigh less than five pounds and measure approximately four by four by 12 inches. These miniature spacecraft will be launched to Earth orbit as auxiliary payloads between 2014 and 2016." More

"STRaND-1, the nanosatellite carrying a smartphone, has been declared operational in orbit by the mission team from the University of Surrey's Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). The satellite successfully separated from the Indian PSLV launcher in low Earth orbit after its launch on 25th February, and first contact with STRaND-1 was made on its second pass over the Guildford ground station. STRaND-1 is being commissioned and operated from the Surrey Space Centre's ground station at the University of Surrey. Initial checks have confirmed that critical systems are all functioning as expected." More

"NASA has selected 24 small satellites to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The proposed CubeSats come from universities across the country, a Florida high school, several non-profit organizations and NASA field centers. CubeSats belong to a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites measure about 4 inches on each side, have a volume of about 1 quart, and weigh less than 3 pounds. The selections are from the fourth round of the CubeSat Launch Initiative. After launch, the satellites will conduct technology demonstrations, educational research or science missions. The selected CubeSats will be eligible for flight after final negotiations and an opportunity for flight becomes available." More

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a requirement to launch pico-, nano-, and/or micro-satellites (CubeSats) into earth orbit. A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized space research satellite that typically uses commercial, off-the-shelf electronic components. NASA/ John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for CubeSat deployer hardware and integration services. The requirement includes engineering development support, deployer carrier hardware, CubeSat to deployer and deployer to launch vehicle (LV) integration, and system testing." More

"The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, took a close-up view of Scotland's first satellite today. Clyde Space, which designed and built the UKube-1 nanosatellite, is running final tests at the company's headquarters in the West of Scotland Science Park ahead of its deployment next month to Kazakhstan, where it will be launched in a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket later this year. Employing more than 20 highly-skilled full-time staff, Clyde Space is a leading producer of small satellite, nanosatellite and 'CubeSat' systems - fully-functional satellites that 'piggy-back' on other launches to minimise costs and boost the commercial availability of space research. The company develops and delivers products to commercial aerospace, defence companies and academic teams around the world and now plans to open a base next year in the United States - which already accounts for almost a third of its current orders." More

"A UK mission, jointly developed by the University of Surrey's Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), to send the world's first smartphone satellite into orbit, is due to launch on 25th February. The unique and innovative satellite, called STRaND-1 (the Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), is a 30cm CubeSat weighing 4.3kg. It will launch into a 785km sun-synchronous orbit on ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota, India. STRaND-1 will also be the first UK CubeSat to be launched and has been developed by talented space engineers and researchers at Surrey with the majority of the design and developmental work being carried out in their spare time. The build and test phase of the project has been completed in just three months." More

ESA's Educational CubeSat Program

"ESA invites European student teams who are building CubeSats with mainly educational objectives to propose their satellite for the new 'Fly Your Satellite!' programme. 'Fly Your Satellite!' is an exciting new initiative from the ESA Education and Knowledge Management Office. It is focused on CubeSat projects run by university students and builds on the successful 'CubeSats for the Vega Maiden Flight' pilot programme, which culminated in 2012 with the launch of seven university student-built CubeSats on board the Vega Maiden Flight. In the future, this new initiative is intended to cover the complete development process of a satellite from concept to launch. However, the 2013 edition will be dedicated to teams whose satellite is already at an advanced stage of development and able to complete the Flight Model assembly by June 2013. One, two or three-unit CubeSats are eligible." More

"A new satellite mission designed by university students is entering the advanced stages of development. A new contract appoints ALMASpace, Italy, the prime contractor. The European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) is a micro-satellite mission to low Earth orbit. Newly appointed prime contractor ALMASpace, Italy, will now oversee its final development, integration, testing, and in-orbit commissioning by European university students. The mission's primary goal is to provide students with extensive, hands-on experience of a space project. This will equip them with the necessary skills to confidently enter the high-technology workplace of Europe's future. 'With ESEO, ESA's Education and Knowledge Management Office will continue pursuing its objective of offering hands-on activities to university students across Europe. Working on real space projects has a strong inspirational value and offers the best professional preparation for Europe's future engineers and scientists,' says Piero Galeone, ESA's Head of the Tertiary Education Unit." More

Testing time for Proba-V

"ESA's Proba-V microsatellite is now assembled and midway through testing to ensure it is fully spaceworthy. The miniature Earth-observer, designed to chart global vegetation every two days, will be launched in April. The testing at the specialised Intespace facility in Toulouse, France, includes rigorous simulations of Proba-V's take-off conditions and the hard vacuum and temperature extremes it must endure in orbit. It comes after Proba-V's assembly was completed by prime contractor QinetiQ Space at its facility in Kruibeke, Belgium last month. Building it was a complex operation. Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellites carries a wide-angle telescope for its main Earth-monitoring instrument, a pair of radiation sensors, a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track aircraft in flight all around the globe." More

"This is a Request for Information (RFI) only and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)/Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) will take procurement action in this matter. Further, neither NASA nor the Government will be responsible for any cost incurred in furnishing this information. NASA recognizes the interest by educational institutions, science museums, and other appropriate organizations in the Manufacturing of the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer, Manufacturing of the Wallops 6U CubeSat Satellite Structure, Flying the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer, Marketing the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer and 6U CubeSat Satellite Structure, and Investing in Deployer Technologies. NASA intends to enter into multiple agreements for technical transfer." More

DARPA's Smallsat Imaging Constellation

"Doubts still hang over the military utility of small satellites, holding back progress on low-cost, quick-reaction systems that could be launched at short notice to fill gaps in space coverage. To prove their viability, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) has begun a program to demonstrate that small satellites produced and launched on demand can provide imagery on request directly to individual soldiers. Darpa's goal is to show that a constellation of 24 satellites, each weighing less than 100 lb., can be launched into low Earth orbit (LEO) at a fraction of the cost of acquiring additional unmanned aircraft to provide the same imagery. Raytheon has received the first contract under the Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program. The $1.5 million contract is for the nine-month first phase to design a small imaging satellite. Darpa says other contracts will be awarded as well. Darpa's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (Alasa) program is developing the booster to launch the SeeMe satellites quickly and affordably. Alasa is to be air-launched at short notice from a tactical fighter or business jet with minimal modification to the aircraft." More at Aviation Week

Cubesat Community Workshop

"The UK Space Agency will be running a Cubesat Community Workshop in January. Registration for the workshop is now open. This is a free event and is open to all, hosted by the Open University, Milton Keynes, on 22 January 2013. Please note that space is limited and places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. The event will be an opportunity for the UK Space Agency to provide the cubesat community with an update on its pilot cubesat mission UKube-1, due for launch in early 2013, and to discuss the overall philosophy and timing for the proposed UKube-2 programme. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide input on the future direction of a proposed rolling national programme of cubesat missions. Parallel breakout sessions will be held as detailed in the downloadable programme. These themes have been selected in response to the common issues raised by members of the community." More

"After two successful years of on-orbit operations, NASA's Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, mission is coming to an end. FASTSAT successfully demonstrated a capability to build, deploy and operate a science and technology flight mission at lower costs than previously possible. The satellite was designed, developed and tested over a period of 14 months at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics, both of Huntsville, and the Department of Defense's Space Test Program. FASTSAT used off-the-shelf commercial hardware provided by NASA and a group of industry partners. Weighing slightly less than 400 pounds and carrying six technology and atmospheric science experiments, FASTSAT provided an opportunity to conduct innovative research and mature the readiness of new technologies for future missions." More

"In December 2012, Austria will launch its first two satellites: UniBRITE and BRITE-Austria. This is the first pair of three, forming a network called BRITE-Constellation. The other pairs being contributed by Canada and Poland. The primary goal of BRITE-Constellation is the exploration of short term intensity variations of bright stars (V>6 mag) for a few years. For each satellite pair, one will employ a blue filter and the other a red filter. With the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1992, more than 800 have been detected since. The high-precision photometry from the BRITE instrument will enable a transit search for exoplanets around bright stars. To estimate the capability of BRITE to detect planets, we include in our calculations technical constraints, such as photometric noise levels for stars accessible by BRITE, the duty cycle and duration of observations. The most important parameter is the fraction of stars harboring a planet. Our simulation is based on 2695 stars distributed over the entire sky. Kepler data indicate that at minimum 34% of all stars are orbited by at least one of five different planetary sizes: Earth, Super-Earth, Uranus, Jupiter and Super-Jupiter. Depending on the duty cycle and duration of the observations, about six planets should be detectable in 180 days, of which about five of them being of Jupiter size." More

Using Cubesats To Reduce Space Junk

"Engineers at the University of Glasgow and Clyde Space Ltd have developed a practical solution to the increasing problem of space debris. Millions of pieces of 'space junk' are orbiting the Earth as a side-effect of human exploration and exploitation of space. The pieces range from tiny fragments of bigger objects such as rocket boosters to full-sized pieces of now-defunct equipment. Working satellites and spacecraft can be damaged by collisions with debris, which can travel at velocities of several kilometres per second. The problem is compounded by every collision which creates more debris in turn; in 2009, the collision of a non-operational Russian communications satellite and a working US satellite created more than 700 pieces of debris. Dr Patrick Harkness of the University's School of Engineering has led the development of the Aerodynamic End Of Life Deorbit System, or AEOLDOS, to help ensure that objects sent into space in future can be removed from orbit at the end of their operational cycle." More - with video

2013 CanSat Competition

"This annual competition is open to university and college students from the United States, Canada, Mexico and other countries. Teams of three to 10 students must design, build and launch a sensor payload called a CanSat. Each CanSat is slightly larger than a soda can and must be built according to the specifications released by the competition organizing committee." More

Pete Worden Talks About Smallsats

NASA Ames Director Pete Worden Talks Small Satellites (Video)

"Last week at the Canadian Space Summit Pete Worden was one of the invited keynote speakers. His topic was Small Satellites for Science and Other Uses and as an example: Earth Observation, promises and challenges. Among the technologies he discusses is the Interplanetary Internet and what the future might hold. The talk is about 30 minutes with a 12 minute question and answer session."

"NASA's PhoneSat project has won Popular Science's 2012 Best of What's New Award for innovation in aerospace. PhoneSat will demonstrate the ability to launch one of the lowest-cost, easiest-to-build satellites ever flown in space -- capabilities enabled by using off-the-shelf consumer smartphones. Each year, Popular Science reviews thousands of new products and innovations, and chooses the top 100 winners across 12 categories for its annual Best of What's New issue. To win, a product or technology must represent a significant step forward in its category. All of the winners will be featured in the December special issue of the magazine. "NASA's PhoneSat mission will demonstrate use of small satellites for space commerce, educational activities and citizen-exploration are well within the reach of ordinary Americans because of lower cost, commercially available components," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Thanks to America's continuing investment in space technology to enable NASA missions, we've seen space tech brought down and into our lives here on Earth. With PhoneSat, we're doubling up, and taking those same great technologies back to space." More

"NASA engineers, student interns and amateur radio enthusiasts around the world are listening for signals from a small, cube-shaped satellite launched into orbit from the International Space Station Thursday. The satellite, dubbed "TechEdSat," was released at 11:44 a.m. EDT from the new Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the space station. TechEdSat measures about 4 inches (10 centimeters) on a side and carries a ham radio transmitter. It was developed by a group of student interns from San Jose State University (SJSU) in California with mentoring and support from staff at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. TechEdSat arrived at the space station aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle July 21 and the station's Expedition 33 crew processed it for launch." More

Plug-and-Play Microsatellites

"Marc Smotherman, ATA's task manager for the STAT's chamber data acquisition and control system, said, "One of the requirements for the STAT facility was to install a government-furnished microsatellite in the STAT chamber during final system tests. "The satellite earmarked for this effort became unavailable. The Air Force approached ATA for a solution. An ATA team composed of John Prebola, Carrie McInturff (ATA's STAT project engineer and lead for the facility's distributed mission operation system) and I developed requirements for the microsatellite." The main requirements were that all the microsatellite components had flown in space and that the instrumentation be included with the microsatellite so that it could measure certain environmental parameters it would encounter in the STAT chamber. "Carrie and I developed a software and hardware design for the microsatellite that includes not only the microsatellite design," Smotherman said, "but design of ground support systems to monitor the status of the microsatellite in the STAT chamber." The design drawings for the microsatellite and ground support hardware were given to Roger Johnson, an ATA instrumentation technician expert." More

European CanSat Competition

"Students in different age groups are being invited by ESA to participate in three educational programmes that will take place during 2013. Each programme is an exciting opportunity to design an experiment and conduct scientific research. ESA is now inviting proposals for the Spin Your Thesis! campaign. This programme enables university students to carry out experiments in hypergravity, using the Large Diameter Centrifuge at the Agency's ESTEC space research and technology centre in the Netherlands. It is open to undergraduate students and those following a Masters or PhD course. Up to four teams will be selected. The deadline for proposal submissions is 10 December. Another call is for the European CanSat competition. The CanSats, similar in volume and shape to a soft-drink can, will be launched on a small rocket from the Netherlands. The primary task of each CanSat will be to measure atmospheric temperature and pressure during the flight." More

"An experimental camera smaller than an espresso cup on ESA's Proba-2 microsatellite caught this view of soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac as it moved west of the Florida coast into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. The small satellite's X-Cam - Exploration Camera - acquired this image at 11:38:33 GMT on 27 August. At the time, Isaac was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of around 100 km/hr, with storm-force winds extending around 360 km from its centre. Isaac is expected to become a fully fledged hurricane during Tuesday, fed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Less than a cubic metre in size, Proba-2's main mission focuses on observing the Sun and space weather." More.

NASA's Smartphone Nanosatellite

"NASA's PhoneSat project will demonstrate the ability to launch the lowest-cost and easiest to build satellites ever flown in space - capabilities enabled by using off-the-shelf consumer smartphones to build spacecraft. A small team of engineers working on NASA's PhoneSat at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., aim to rapidly evolve satellite architecture and incorporate the Silicon Valley approach of "release early, release often" to small spacecraft. To achieve this, NASA's PhoneSat design makes extensive use of commercial-off-the-shelf components, including an unmodified, consumer-grade smartphone. Out of the box smartphones already offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios." More.

"A penny-sized rocket thruster may soon power the smallest satellites in space. The device, designed by Paulo Lozano, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, bears little resemblance to today's bulky satellite engines, which are laden with valves, pipes and heavy propellant tanks. Instead, Lozano's design is a flat, compact square -- much like a computer chip -- covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward. "They're so small that you can put several [thrusters] on a vehicle," Lozano says. He adds that a small satellite outfitted with several microthrusters could "not only move to change its orbit, but do other interesting things -- like turn and roll." Lozano and his group in MIT's Space Propulsion Laboratory and Microsystems Technology Laboratory presented their new thruster array at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' recent Joint Propulsion Conference." More

A small ball-shaped science satellite is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 32 crew member after its deployment during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA). Earth's horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene. More

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) anticipates making launch opportunities for a limited number of CubeSats available on launches currently planned for 2013-2016. The CubeSat Launch Initiative is a project to demonstrate viable launch opportunities for CubeSat payloads as auxiliary payloads on planned missions. NASA anticipates using its authority to enter into one or more collaborative Agreements with selected Respondents ("Collaborators") to support the CubeSat Launch Initiative. During the project, NASA will provide integration and other services as necessary to complete the launch activity. The CubeSat Launch Initiative is open to NASA centers, U.S. not-for-profit organizations, and accredited U.S. educational organizations. Participation in the CubeSat Launch Initiative will be contingent upon selection by NASA and negotiation of an appropriate Agreement between NASA and the Collaborator. Proposed CubeSat investigations 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 the NASA Education Vision and Goals." More

"Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. In 2010 NASA announced a Nano-Satellite Launch (NSL) Challenge to encourage development of safe, low-cost, small-payload delivery systems for frequent access to low Earth orbit (LEO) through innovations in propulsion and other technologies as well as operations and management for broader applications in future launch systems that could result in a commercial capability for dedicated launches of small satellites at a cost comparable to secondary payload launches--a potential new market with Government, commercial, and academic customers. To assist in formulation of the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge, NASA is seeking additional information on the nano-satellite market and on approaches to address the market needs. There are currently several existing launch vehicles and new launch vehicle programs that could provide ride-sharing opportunities for nano-satellite. A NASA NSL Challenge could focus on a vehicle dedicated to providing greater payload design flexibility for cubesats and other small payloads, more frequent access to space at costs comparable or less than existing or proposed ride-share launch options." More

Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5

Flight Opportunities for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status

"Dear Flight Opportunities community: We are pleased to announce the release of Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5 (AFO5) today. This new call brings back the opportunity to propose to the parabolic flight platform, in addition to our current sRLV and balloon providers. Proposal due date is September 21, with a tentative announcement of selections in November 2012."

"NASA has chosen three teams to advance the state of the art for small spacecraft in the areas of communications, formation flying and docking systems. The cutting-edge space technology flights are expected to take place in 2014 and 2015. All selected missions will employ nanosatellites conforming to the CubeSat standard. CubeSats are composed of four-inch, cube-shaped units with each having a volume of about one quart and a weight of approximately three pounds. CubeSats can be joined to create multiple-unit spacecraft. They readily can be accommodated as secondary payloads or rideshares on a number of space launch vehicles." More

Nanosatellites in Australia

Nano-satellite offers best hope for Australia's future in space

"A lightweight spacecraft with capabilities that punch above its weight could provide the perfect launching pad for a sustainable Australian space program, a leading engineer says. Dr Steven Tsitas from the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) atUNSW has developed an innovative system design for a new shoebox-sized spacecraft that enables night imaging and agricultural monitoring missions previously requiring much larger crafts. With the right instrumentation, the 8-kilogram spacecraft known as the 6U CubeSat can perform some of the commercial earth-observationmissions of 'microsatellites' that weigh around 100 kg and are roughly the size of a washing machine, he says."

Kickstarter: The ArduSat Mission

"Our mission is to provide affordable space exploration for everyone! We want to get you into space! Once launched, the ArduSat (Arduino - satellite) will be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, steer the onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand, and even broadcast personalized messages back to Earth. By supporting the project you're not only reserving your place at a discounted price at the front of the line to use it once it's in space, but you're helping us develop a platform to make space access affordable and achievable for anyone."

More information at Kickstarter

Surrey engineers use games console technology to make "space building blocks", SSTL

"Space innovators at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are developing 'STRaND-2', a twin-satellite mission to test a novel in-orbit docking system based upon XBOX Kinect technology that could change the way space assets are built, maintained and decommissioned. STRaND-2 is the latest mission in the cutting edge STRaND (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) programme, following on from the smartphone-powered STRaND-1 satellite that is near completion. Similar in design to STRaND-1, the identical twin satellites will each measure 30cm (3 unit Cubesat) in length, and utilise components from the XBOX Kinect games controller to scan the local area and provide the satellites with spatial awareness on all three axes."

CubeSats to NanoSats; Bridging the gap between educational tools and science workhorses, Aerospace Conference, 2012 IEEE

Since their initial development and launch in the early 2000's, the CubeSat platform has captured the imagination and energy of our next generation of spacecraft technologists around the world. Once thought of by the established space community as "toys" and educational novelties, the CubeSat has revolutionized the space-community and broken the acceptance barrier with proven development and on-orbit performance. Leveraging CalPoly's published specification, CubeSats have demonstrated the advantages of a common form factor that can be launched and deployed using a common deployment system by smashing the cost-to-orbit price-point while offering significant mission manifest flexibility. The challenge now lies in transitioning the strengths and success of the CubeSat to mainstream science investigations. While the CubeSat's successes combined with today's budget constraints have served to open the established space community to discussions of innovative ideas to reduce costs; it faces both perceived and real constraints related to mission applications, reliability, payload performance, communications, and operations. The CubeSat model must be evolved to penetrate the stigmas and applied appropriately to become an accepted tool in the world of mainstream science investigations. This paper identifies issues and presents potential solutions and lessons-learned regarding these issues based on several recent mission concept developments for potential real-world applications.

JAXA Cubesat Mission Update


SDS-4: End of Critical Phase Completed

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) would like to announce that the Small Demonstration Satellite-4 (SDS-4) completed its critical phase operations and moved to the initial phase. The SDS-4 was launched by the H-IIA F21 at 1:39 a.m. on May 18, 2012 (Japan Standard Time) as a secondary payload with the Global Change Observation Satellite 1st - Water "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-1.)"

Flexure Engineering is creating the LunarCubes Working Group and LunarCubes workshops to promote the creation of a standard to facilitate the development of low cost, rapid development payloads that easily could be added to the many Lunar opportunities that will arise in the coming decades.

LunarCubes - The Next Frontier
October 4-6, 2012, Mountain View California
Call for Papers : June 1, 2012

To learn more go to: http://lunar-cubes.com

U.S. Navy Seeks Cubesat Ideas

Novel CubeSat Payloads for Naval Space Missions, US Navy SBIR/STTR

"Nano-satellites are popular among universities and gaining momentum with commercial and government organizations. Standards based satellite buses and deployment mechanisms, such as the CubeSat and Poly Pico-satellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD), have stimulated growth in the area. Small satellites have proven capable and cost effective in many areas traditionally dominated by large satellites, however many challenges remain.

Beyond state of the art research is needed to drastically reduce the size, weight and power of payloads that have traditionally performed Naval space missions on much larger satellites. Traditional Naval space missions include narrowband communications (UHF Follow On, Mobile User Objective System), astrometry (Joint Milli-Arcsecond Pathfinder Survey), and ocean sensing (GEOdetic SATellite, GEOSAT Follow On). Other missions of Naval interest will also be considered. Smaller, more cost effective satellites will enable the Navy to continue vital space missions despite limited resources."

Olso Physicists Use 20 New Satellites to Forecast Space Weather

"Universities around the world are now working together to understand what is happening at a micro-level in the plasma clouds. When they have found the answers, the space experts will be able to forecast space weather, just like meteorologists forecast the Earth's weather every day. UiO has developed very small instruments that can measure micro-structures and turbulence in the plasma clouds. The instrument consists of four needles that can be mounted on satellites about the size of a milk carton. No one else has managed this."

Partnership Opportunity Document for Edison Small Satellite Technology Demonstration Missions

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA)Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is considering multiple missions on Cubesat-class platforms to conduct technology demonstrations, which advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of these systems. Systems providing novel in-space primary propulsion as well as spacecraft to ground communication and spacecraft to spacecraft communication cross-links for Cubesats are of interest. GSFC teams will be submitting proposals to the Edison Small Satellite Technology Demonstration (Edison) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) in May 2012."

NSF Seeks Cubesat Proposals

CubeSat-based Science Missions for Geospace and Atmospheric Research, NSF

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): May 07, 2012

Synopsis of Program: Lack of essential observations from space is currently a major limiting factor in many areas of geospace and atmospheric research. Recent advances in sensor and spacecraft technologies make it feasible to obtain key measurements from low-cost, small satellite missions. A particularly promising aspect of this development is the prospect for obtaining multi-point observations in space that are critical for addressing many outstanding problems in space and atmospheric sciences. Space-based measurements from small satellites also have great potential to advance discovery and understanding in geospace and atmospheric sciences in many other ways. To take full advantage of these developments, NSF is soliciting research proposals centered on small satellite missions.

The overarching goal of the program is to support the development, construction, launch, operation, and data analysis of small satellite science missions to advance geospace and atmospheric research. Equally important, it will provide essential opportunities to train the next generation of experimental space scientists and aerospace engineers.

To facilitate launch of the satellites as secondary payloads on existing missions, the focus of the program is on CubeSat-based satellites. Launch of the satellites will mainly be through the standardized CubeSat deployment system, the Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD). Launch of the P-PODS will be as auxiliary payloads on DOD, NASA, or commercial launches. This will be arranged after selection and is not part of this solicitation. This solicitation covers proposals for science missions to include satellite development, construction, testing and operation as well as data distribution and scientific analysis.

Testing New Software Via Nanosat

Innovative Nanosat Will Test Space Software

"How do you test ground-breaking satellite software under real flight conditions? Why not build a satellite? A new design developed by ESA promises new opportunities for European space industry to test software on an actual mission in space. The popular image of a 21st-century satellite includes a sleek design, gossamer solar arrays, ultra-high-tech components and cutting-edge digital electronics. And the onboard software must be the very latest thing, too, right? Wrong. Or, at least, the reality is much more prosaic: software used in satellites today is certainly good, but it rarely runs the latest operating systems, languages or interfaces. "Space software is generally older because it is selected for its proven, rock-solid reliability rather than its use of the latest and newest programming technologies," says Dave Evans, a mission concept engineer at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. "ESA is still using the Packet Utilisation Standard to control our satellites, which was defined in 1994. "Today, the software for terrestrial computers has completely changed. Who else do you know still using software from 1994? Back then, PCs were running Windows 3.1 with 3.5-inch floppy disks."

NASA Solicitation: Scientific Payload for Multipoint Space Physics Measurements: Nansoat Cubesat

"NASA/ARC plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a minimum of 14 units, with options for up to 6 additional units, for a maximum of 20, identical flight-qualified payload instrument packages. These packages must be designed to interface with the Government-furnished EtherSat bus for the purpose of demonstrating distributed multipoint space physics measurements hosted by the Ethersat constellation. A provision of 25% spare parts/units (detailed in Delivery section of the draft Statement of Work) is additionally to be provided. One "engineering development unit"(EDU) (for evaluation purposes) is also to be delivered, near mid-term. The period of performance is to be less than 7 months total duration, with delivery required in November 2012 to meet NASA's satellite integration schedule."

More NASA Cubesat Selections

NASA Announces Third Round Of CubeSat Space Mission Candidates

"NASA has selected 33 small satellites to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2013 and 2014. The proposed CubeSats come from universities across the country, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, NASA field centers and Department of Defense organizations. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds. The selections are from the third round of the CubeSat Launch Initiative. After launch, the satellites will conduct technology demonstrations, educational research or science missions. The selected spacecraft are eligible for flight after final negotiations and an opportunity for flight becomes available."

NASA Ames Cubesat Opportunity

NASA Notice: Scientific Payload for Multipoint Space Physics Measurements: Nanosat Cubesat

"This notice is to solicit information from the small satellite community. NASA is seeking sources to develop and deliver a low cost, 1/2U (10cmx5cmx10cm) scientific payload for multipoint space physics measurements on a NanoSat Spacecraft of 1.5U CubeSat form factor. Please see the attached "Draft" Statement of Work (SOW) for additional details regarding this future acquisition."

NASA Solicitation: Edison Small Satellite Flight Demonstration Missions

"NASA, through this BAA, plans to seek proposals for low-cost, flight demonstrations for small satellite technology. This procurement will accelerate the development of small spacecraft capabilities for NASA, commercial, and other space sector users. Successful proposals will provide a compelling infusion strategy that ensures that the proposed technology will find active utility after the completion of the flight demonstration mission. The small spacecraft demonstration missions under the Edison Program are intended to flight- validate one or more small spacecraft subsystem technologies or mission capabilities with game-changing and/or crosscutting potential, specifically maturation from NASA Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 5 or 6 to TRL 7."

NanoSail-D Mission is Complete

NASA's NanoSail-D Completes Mission

"After spending more than 240 days "sailing" around the Earth, NASA's NanoSail-D -- a nanosatellite that deployed NASA's first-ever solar sail in low-Earth orbit - has successfully completed its Earth orbiting mission. Launched to space Nov 19, 2010 as a payload on NASA's FASTSAT, a small satellite, NanoSail-D's sail deployed on Jan. 20. The flight phase of the mission successfully demonstrated a deorbit capability that could potentially be used to bring down decommissioned satellites and space debris by re-entering and totally burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. The team continues to analyze the orbital data to determine how future satellites can use this new technology."

Istanbul, Turkey International Conference on Student Small Satellites (CSSS 2012)

"CSSS 2012 will be held in Istanbul, Turkey. The first goal of this conference is to provide a selective and interdisciplinary forum for research in Small Satellites Systems. The second goal is to provide a remarkable opportunity for the academic and industrial community to address new challenges and discuss future research directions in the area of small satellites. The third goal is to give the young participants a chance to meet experienced professors and experts from the industry."

Chipsat pioneer named NASA's chief technologist, Nature

"Mason Peck 's interest in chipsats, and an experiment called Sprite, might be even more radical. These satellites pack all the communication and navigation capabilities they need onto a chip the size of a dime; for fuel, they can simply ride on the wave of the solar wind, like a miniature solar sail. Right now, Peck has a few Sprites being tested on the space station, but he foresees all sorts of future uses: clusters of chipsats, stationed at the Earth-Sun Lagrangian point, for monitoring dangerous outbursts of Solar wind; a benign chipsat cloud surrounding larger spacecraft to serve as inspectors and sentries; or an armada of chipsats, sent plunging into the atmosphere of an outer planet, in order to return basic physics and chemistry data."

NASA Names Cornell Professor To CTO Position, Information Week

"At Cornell, Peck is the principal investigator on the CUSat in-orbit inspection technology demonstration, a pair of satellites the university has built that are scheduled to launch in 2013 on a Falcon 9 rocket through the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's University Nanosatellite program."

CUSat

NASA Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge

NASA And Space Florida Small Satellite Research Center Partner In Space Launch Challenge

"The Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge is to launch satellites with a mass of at least 2.2 pounds (1 kg) into Earth orbit, twice within the span of one week. The new challenge has a NASA-provided prize purse of $2 million. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in propulsion and other technologies, as well as operations and management relevant to safe, low-cost, small payload delivery system for frequent access to Earth orbit. Innovations stemming from this challenge will be beneficial to broader applications in future launch systems. They may enhance commercial capability for dedicated launches of small satellites at a cost comparable to secondary payload launches -- a potential new market with government, commercial, and academic customers."

DICE Satellites Placed Into Orbit

DICE - Dynamic Ionosphere Cubesat Experiment: DICE will map geomagnetic Storm Enhanced Density (SED) plasma bulge and plume formations in Earth's ionosphere. Two identical spinning spacecraft will measure plasma density and electric fields to determine the how and why of variations in ionospheric plasma density that affect the performance of communications, surveillance, and navigation systems on earth and in space.

Just-launched tiny USU satellites studying solar disturbances, Desert News

"The DICE satellites, known as "nanosatellites," are smaller than a toaster. They were put together by students at Utah State University and launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Delta rocket that also carried NASA's satellite, known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System."

Twin USU Built Small Satellites Delivered to California for Launch Prep

"Two Utah State University completed Dynamic Ionosphere Cubesat Experiment (DICE) satellites have been delivered to the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, for final launch readiness. Cal Poly will place the two National Science Foundation funded miniature spacecraft in an ejection canister and verify that the assembly is ready for launch."

AubieSat-1: "AubieSat-1 is the first student built satellite in Alabama. It is a 1U CubeSat: 1000cm3 in volume and weighing 1.03-kg. It is entirely designed and built and tested by Auburn University undergraduate students, without using components off the shelf. It will study radio wave propagation through the ionosphere and test solar panel protective films. It is part of the ELaNa3 Mission."

Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX): "RAX is a joint venture between the University of Michigan and SRI International. Its primary mission objective is to study large plasma formations in the ionosphere, the highest region of our atmosphere. These plasma instabilities are known to spawn magnetic field-aligned irregularities (FAI), or dense plasma clouds known to disrupt communication between Earth and orbiting spacecraft." Twitter: @RAX_2010 Facebook RAX

Michigan Multipurpose Minisat (M-Cubed): "The objective of MCubed is to obtain a mid resolution image to date of Earth with at least 60% land mass and a maximum of 20% cloud coverage from a single cubesat platform. S3FL is also developing the MCubed bus with the intention of making it a heritage design, thus allowing for future missions to be flown on the same bus." Twitter: @UMCubed Tumblr: M-Cubed

Michigan Exploration Laboratory

M-CUBED and RAX Photos below

MSU satellite orbits the Earth after early morning launch

"Early Friday morning, shortly before 4 a.m. Mountain time, a student-built satellite called Explorer-1 [Prime] roared into the sky on a NASA rocket launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Almost two hours later, the satellite separated from the rocket and starting circling the Earth. Within three hours of launch, ham radio operators in France, England and The Netherlands had reported hearing from the satellite. ... Updates on Explorer-1 [Prime] are available on the Montana Space Grant Consortium Facebook page."

Small But Agile Proba-1 Reaches 10 Years in Orbit, ESA

"A good photographer needs agility. So it is with ESA microsatellite Proba-1, which turns in space to capture terrestrial targets. Celebrating its tenth birthday this week, Proba-1's unique images are used by hundreds of scientific teams worldwide. A technology demonstrator turned into an Earth observation mission, the microsatellite - just a cubic metre in volume - has acquired nearly 20, 000 environmental science images with its main Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (CHRIS), used by a total of 446 research groups in 60 countries."

MSU's twin satellite to launch Oct. 28 on NASA rocket

"The twin of a Montana State University student-built satellite that was launched in the spring but failed to reach orbit as a result of an anomaly with the TAURUS-XL rocket is scheduled to be launched Friday, Oct. 28, on another NASA rocket. This miniature research satellite - also called Explorer-1 [Prime] in honor of the first successful U.S. satellite - is set to launch between 3:48 and 3:57 a.m. Mountain time on a Delta II rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Maria, Calif. MSU students and faculty members plan to watch from the Air Force base, as well as from MSU's Space Operations Center in Cobleigh Hall, said Dave Klumpar, director of MSU's Space Science and Engineering Laboratory."

STRaND-1 Space App Winners Announced

Winners of Space App Competition announced

"Space technology experts from Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) and the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) have announced the four lucky winners of the 'Space App Competition' who will see their Android Applications run on smartphone-powered satellite STRaND-1, due for launch into space next year. Applying through a competition held on Facebook, the four winners were chosen for their app's scientific benefits, their creativity, or the app's ability to get young people enthusiastic about science and technology."