New Space and Tech

NASA Announces Selection of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 30, 2023
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NASA Announces Selection of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions
Graphic depicting the states being represented from which NASA selected small research satellites in the 14th Round of CubeSat Mission. Credits: NASA

NASA has selected eight small research satellites across seven states to fly to space helping address aspects of the agency’s education, science, or technology development goals.

These missions currently are planned to launch in the 2024 to 2027 timeframe. The selected CubeSats were proposed in response to NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) call for proposals issued on Aug. 8, 2022.

“Small satellites, such as CubeSats, play a valuable role in the agency’s educational, science, and technology investigations, including planetary exploration, Earth observation, and fundamental Earth and space science,” said Bradley Smith, NASA’s Launch Services Office director. “They are a cornerstone in the development of cutting-edge NASA technologies such as laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications, and autonomous movement.”

Launch opportunities for the selectees are provided through the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions facilitated by NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP). Selected CubeSats will launch aboard planned spaceflight missions led by NASA, other U.S. government agencies, or commercial organizations with coordination from LSP. After launch, the CubeSats will deploy into orbit from either the rocket or the International Space Station.

CSLI 14th Round CubeSat Selections

This year’s selections represent three new organizations participating in CSLI – Columbia University, Harvard College, and Northeastern University. The complete list of organizations and the CubeSats chosen during this selection round are:

Saint Louis University – The Demonstration of Artificial Reasoning, Learning, and Analysis (DARLA) mission will train undergraduate students in the entire spacecraft lifecycle (concept through operations). The mission will demonstrate key technologies for onboard science event detection and response.

University of Louisiana Lafayette – The Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experience (CAPE-4) will focus on developing the building blocks for economical deep space CubeSat-based experimentation.
Harvard College – The Harvard College CubeSat will test the utility and viability of Shape-Memory Alloys as a means to reduce cost and complexity for instrumentation in a microgravity environment. The goal is for this application of shape-memory alloys to represent a simple, scalable, and cost-competitive solution for critical deployment functions in Earth orbit and beyond.

University of Texas at Austin – The Spacecraft for Optical-based Position Estimation-1 (SCOPE-1) will demonstrate the use of an optical navigation method for position, navigation, and timing based on primary-body surface features, e.g., lunar craters, islands, etc. The mission will use a specialized image processing algorithm for Earth orbit to demonstrate the use of this navigation approach on a small satellite.

Columbia University – The CUbesat-1 is an educational outreach cube-satellite mission designed to provide accessible and engaging astrophysics education for middle school students in underserved New York City public schools. The 3U satellite will house a spectrograph capable of capturing spatially resolved spectra of ionized hydrogen (H-alpha) for a range of astronomical bodies.
Northeastern University – TeraHertz in Space Satellite (THIS-SAT) will establish the first THz inter-satellite links and demonstrate that THz inter-satellite communication is not only possible but also that the required technologies can be compact as well.

University of Hawaii at Manoa – The Variability in Atmosphere from Solar Energetic Events Study (VIA-SEEs) mission will learn more about our atmosphere’s response to energetic radiation from the Sun and how this radiation drives changes. It will measure ozone depletion in the wake of solar energetic particle events. The project is designed to refine the quantitative relationship between solar energetic particle fluxes and atmospheric gas concentrations with enhanced time and energy resolution.

Arizona State University – The Coconut mission aims to add a LoRa ground station to achieve better coverage, greater penetration, and further range than possible without an orbital store-and-forward solution. Coconut will enable the creation of a communication network between different LoRa devices.

CubeSats are a type of space research nanosatellite. In their smallest form, they measure about four inches on each side, weigh less than three pounds, and have an approximate volume of one quart. CubeSats are built using these standard dimensions, or units (U), and are typically classified as 1U, 2U, 3U, 6U, or 12U in total size.

To date, 220 CubeSat missions from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have been selected, and 147 CubeSat missions have launched into space through ELaNa rideshare opportunities.

For additional information on how to apply for a launch opportunity through CSLI, visit:

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.