Three CubeSats Get Rides on First SLS-Orion Flight

Three teams earned a $20,000 prize check and a slot to launch their CubeSat on Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of NASA’s Space Launch System. NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA’s Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. (Credit: NASA/Dominic Hart)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded rides for three small spacecraft on the agency’s newest rocket, and $20,000 each in prize money, to the winning teams of citizen solvers competing in the semi-final round of the agency’s Cube Quest Challenge.

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Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: SEDS Triteia

Triteia spacecraft is designed for maneuvering into lunar orbit. (Credits: SEDS/Triteia)

SAN DIEGO (NASA PR) — Triteia is the Cube Quest Challenge entry from the University of California, San Diego’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). As part of their approach, they are making use of an additively manufactured thruster for their spacecraft.

This 3D-printed engine thruster is vital for the semi-autonomous, chemically propelled 6U CubeSat to make its journey to the moon, then maneuvering to enter lunar orbit.
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Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: Cislunar Explorers

A rendering of team Cislunar Explorers’ spacecraft. Two of these spacecraft are mated together to form a 6U-sized CubeSat, small enough to fit inside a briefcase. (Credits: Cornell University/Cislunar Explorers Team)

ITHACA, NY (NASA PR) — Tenacity and drive are hallmarks of Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers Team. But there is another key factor in building and testing their spacecraft: Just add water.

“The core concept behind our work is using water as rocket fuel,” said project manager Kyle Patrick Doyle. “It’s something that we’ve been looking at for a long time, and it’s exciting to have a chance to test our technology in space.”

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Cygnus Leaves Station, Begins Week-long Secondary Mission

SS John Glenn near the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

DULLES, Va., 4 June 2017 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its Cygnus™ spacecraft  successfully unberthed from the International Space Station, beginning the next phase of its mission before it reenters Earth’s atmosphere. The “S.S. John Glenn” will now conduct three secondary payload missions including the Saffire-III fire experiment, deployment of four CubeSats and an experiment to further study spacecraft conditions upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: CU-E3

Structures team member Raj Bansal assembling the CU-E3 prototype structure. (Credit: Team CU-E3)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — The shoebox-size CU Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) is being assembled by the University of Colorado, Boulder, Aerospace Engineering Science Graduate Projects Class.

CU-E3 is designed for a communications technology demonstration mission, slated to travel more than 2.5 million miles into space. As a Deep Space Derby entry, the diminutive spacecraft will reach an orbit of about 10 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
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Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: Ragnarok Industries

Heimdallr Cubesat (Credit: Ragnarok Industries)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Ragnarok Industries is busily working on its Cube Quest Challenge entry, a 6U smallsat named Heimdallr. The spacecraft will feature electric propulsion to reach lunar orbit, explains Luigi Balarinni, chief executive officer and co-founder of the firm.

A big plus in their design and building of Heimdallr is partnering with a diversity of space industry companies, furthering their objective of advancing CubeSat applications in the near future.

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CubeSats Deployed From ISS

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — NanoRacks began the first of two airlock cycles for the 11th and 12th NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Missions (NRCSD-11, NRCSD-12) on May 16, 2017. We are pleased to update our customers, friends, and shareholders that the first round of deployments has been completed successfully.

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Cube Quest Challenge Spotlight: Team Miles

A plume from thruster testing of Team Miles’ CubeSat. The Miles mission will be flown autonomously by an onboard computer system and propelled by evolutionary plasma thrusters. (Credit: Team Miles)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — For Team Miles and their CubeSat entry, it’s about propelling citizen science to the moon…and beyond.

The breadbox-size Miles is a 6U satellite built to navigate into deep space.

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ESA Selects 6 CubeSats in Fly Your Satellite Competition

Student teams during a tour of the facilities at ESTEC. (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — Six university teams have been selected for the second edition of the Fly Your Satellite! programme after an intensive week at the Selection Workshop, held at ESTEC from 1st to 5th May. The CubeSats evaluation and selection were carried out by a CubeSat Evaluation Panel, consisting of ESA experts from a range of disciplines.

The Fly Your Satellite! programme released a call for proposals on 20 December 2016 for its second edition. Since then, teams from many universities have been working hard to prepare proposals which were reviewed by the CubeSat Evaluation Panel.

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Coming Soon: CubeSats with Frickin’ Laser Beams

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Laser communications systems have become the next big thing in spacecraft design, promising improved communications. And now NASA is looking to put them on CubeSats.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking sources of compact laser transmitters that could be placed on one of these small satellites for a future technology demonstration space flight mission.

“Goddard is developing a CUBESat spacecraft with science mission payload for a multiple unit CUBESat spacecraft that will generate >1 Gbit/day science data at distances up to 0.5 Astronomical Units (AU). Reference 1 gives a notional CUBESat laser communications system concept,” the center said in the RFI.

“The purpose of this RFI is to solicit specific capability information from industry on master- oscillator power-amplifier (MOPA) laser communication transmitter technologies. This will be used for a cost, schedule and technical assessment to assist with preparing for a possible near-future NASA CUBESat spacecraft technology demonstration,” the RFI adds.

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Astrobotic Selected for NASA Small Business Award to Develop Lunar CubeRover


Astrobotic Technology has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop a new class of rover to evaluate conditions on the lunar surface.

“The proposed innovation is a Lunar CubeRover specialized as a 2 kg payload to evaluate lander ejecta and to characterize small-rover trafficability,” the proposal states. “This CubeRover and its roles are specific to the RFP though broadly more general and impactful for exploration enterprise.

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CSA to Provide $200K for Student CubeSats

LONGUEUIL, Quebec, April 27, 2017 (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) plans to award 13 grants of about $200,000 to post-secondary institutions as part of a challenge to design, build, launch and operate their own satellites. This initiative will help equip young Canadians with the skills and experience needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The CSA’s Canadian CubeSat Project will support proposals representing each province and territory. The winning teams, composed of professors and students, will take part in a real space mission by designing and building a miniature satellite called a CubeSat. This unique, hands-on experience will enable students to acquire expertise in a wide variety of areas—ranging from science, to engineering, to communicating their work with the public—and give them the opportunity to develop invaluable skills to transition into the workforce in the global innovation economy.

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Cygnus Delivers NanoRacks’ Largest CubeSat Mission to ISS

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — Orbital ATK’s Cygnus (OA-7) spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning after launching Tuesday, April 18th from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This mission is NanoRacks’ largest CubeSat mission to date – carrying 38 CubeSats to be deployed from NanoRacks deployers on both the ISS and on the outside of Cygnus.

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U.S. National Lab Research Payloads Headed for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) The Orbital ATK Cygnus vehicle launched on its seventh cargo resupply mission (CRS-7) to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V vehicle, carrying more than 40 ISS U.S. National Laboratory sponsored investigations.

The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is chartered to facilitate research in the microgravity environment that benefits life on Earth. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is leading the effort in partnership with NASA, industry, other government organizations, and academia to manage and promote the best use of the ISS National Lab.

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ExoTerra to Become First Privately Owned Space Company to Fly to an Asteroid

Solar electric propulsion system. (Credit: ExoTerra Resources)

LITTLETON, Colo., March 27, 2017 (Exoterra PR) — NASA has awarded ExoTerra Corporation a $2.5M contract to demonstrate a novel solar electric propulsion system for CubeSats that will enable the shoebox-sized spacecraft to triple their available power and produce over 2.5 km/s of propulsion.

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