Press Release

NASA Releases Latest CubeSat Launch Initiative Announcement of Opportunity

By SpaceRef Editor
October 5, 2020
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Accredited education institutions, nonprofit organizations and NASA Centers can join the adventure and challenges of space while helping the agency achieve its exploration goals through the next round of the NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). Applicants must submit proposals by 4:30 p.m. EST, December 16, 2020.

The CSLI provides CubeSat developers with a low-cost pathway to conduct research in space that advances NASA’s strategic goals in the areas of science, technology development, and education.  The initiative allows educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and NASA Centers and programs the ability to gain hands-on experience designing, building, and operating these small research satellites.

To date, NASA has selected 192 CubeSat missions, 104 of which have been launched into space with 38 missions scheduled for launch within the next 12 months.  The selected CubeSats represent participants from 41 states and Puerto Rico, and 102 unique organizations.

NASA will make selections by April 2, 2021, although selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. Selected experiments will be considered as auxiliary payloads on agency launches or for deployment from the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in 2021 through 2024. U.S. accredited educational institutions, U.S. nonprofit organizations, and NASA Centers/Mission Directorates are responsible for funding the development of the small satellites.

For this round of the initiative, NASA is particularly interested in participation from organizations in 9 states not previously selected. These states are: Delaware, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.

CubeSats are part of a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. CubeSats are built to standard dimensions (Units or “U”) of approximately 10x10x11 centimeters. They can be 1U to 12U in volume, and typically weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per U. A 6U CubeSat typically has a mass of about 26.5 pounds (12 kilograms). The final allowable mass of a CubeSat depends on the selected deployment device and launch vehicle.

Small satellites like CubeSats play a valuable role in the agency’s exploration, technology, educational, and science investigations, including planetary exploration, Earth observation, and fundamental Earth and space science. They are a cornerstone in the development of cutting-edge NASA technologies like laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications, and autonomous movement.

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SpaceRef staff editor.