Space Commerce

LICIACube Named AIAA Small Satellite Mission of the Year

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 15, 2023
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LICIACube Named AIAA Small Satellite Mission of the Year

LICIACube, designed, built and operated by Argotec, wins industry honors for its pioneering mission to further space science and the capabilities of small satellites.

Argotec, a leading company in small satellite production, was honored for the reliability and technical excellence of its LICIACube mission with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Small Satellite Mission of the Year award.

Announced annually at the AIAA and Utah State University Small Satellite Conference, this award recognizes missions that demonstrate a significant improvement in the capability of small satellites.

LICIACube, funded by the Italian Space Agency, was part of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, the first attempt to target, impact and move an asteroid in space, in September 2022. The microsatellite was the only secondary mission aboard NASA DART, and its objective was to document the impact between the DART probe and the asteroid Dimorphos. LICIACube is the first deep space small satellite to attempt such a mission.

Argotec’s Mission Control Center recorded LICIACube performing an asteroid fly-by at 4.35 miles per second, or more than 15,650 mph, under fully autonomous navigation. It took 627 photos showing debris streaming from Dimorphos.

“With LICIACube, we once again demonstrated the incredible performance and reliability of our platform,” said David Avino, Argotec CEO and founder. “This award recognizes the hard work and technical expertise of the Argotec team. And we are excited for our continued work on projects and missions in LEO and deep space, especially as we expand our presence in the United States.”

Argotec recently announced a multimillion-dollar investment to start operations and build its facility in Largo, Maryland. The AIAA award speaks to Argotec’s commitment and the results the company is already achieving in the U.S. market.

Furthermore, Argotec has begun construction on its new SpacePark in Turin, Italy, to be completed in early 2025. The new facility will include nearly 120,000 square feet of covered space for a highly automated production plant and more than 180,000 square feet of green space as part of Argotec’s commitment to sustainability.

Visit for more information. You can access more details on the LICIACube mission here and access photos from the mission and of the award here.

Argotec is an Italian space company, with headquarters in Turin, Italy, and operations in Largo, Maryland. The company produces small, highly reliable satellites and designs comfort solutions for astronauts and future space tourists. In 2022, Argotec was the only company in the world to operate two small satellites in deep space as part of NASA missions (DART and Artemis 1). Its current work includes the high-Earth orbit constellation for the IRIDE program, one of Europe’s largest space programs for Earth observation. Argotec is on track to nearly double its year-over-year sales for 2023 and has plans to increase its workforce. The company will also complete its 300,000-square-foot Argotec SpacePark in Turin, Italy, in early 2025.

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