Status Report on Artemis I Secondary CubeSat Payloads

A concept image of the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout mission, one of 10 missions that will be secondary payloads to the first test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System. (Credit: NASA)

Updated 11/08/22, 1:05 PST: LunIR and NEA Scout statuses modified.

Seven of the 10 CubeSats launches as secondary payloads on NASA’s Artemis mission are reported to be functioning as designed. A Japanese spacecraft designed to land on the moon has been tumbling and unable to charge its batteries. And the status of a NASA CubeSat equipped with a giant solar sail and one other spacecraft are uncertain more than 24 hours after launch.

We will update the story as we get more information about the CubeSats.

Artemis I Secondary Payloads

PayloadBuilder/OperatorPurposeStatus
ArgoMoonItalian Space AgencyTech demoOperational
BioSentinelNASAAstrobiologyOperational
CuSPNASASpace weatherOperational
EQUULEUSUniversity of TokyoEarth observationOperational
LunaH-MapNASALunar observationsOperational
Lunar IceCubeMorehouse State University/NASALunar observationsOperational
LunIRLockheed MartinTech demoWeaker than expected signal received
Near-Earth Asteroid ScoutNASATech demoNo signal received yet
OMOTENASHIJapan Aerospace Exploration AgencyLunar landerTumbling
Team MilesFluid & ReasonTechnology demoUnknown

The Good

ArgoMoon
Builder/Operator: Argotec
Orbit: Heliocentric
Size: 6U

ArgoMoon is designed to return images of the Space Launch Systems’ Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage that placed the Orion spacecraft on a trajectory to the moon. The images were to be taken after Orion separated from the stage to demonstrate how CubeSats can perform precise proximity maneuvers in deep space.

Dan Rowan works on internal components of the BioSentinel CubeSat. (Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart)

BioSentinel
Builder/Operator: NASA Ames Research Center
Orbit: Heliocentric
Size: 6U

BioSentinel holds yeast cards that will be rehydrated to study the effects of deep space radiation on DNA repair.

CuSP (CubeSat for Solar Particles)
Builder/Operator: Southwest Research Institute
Orbit: Heliocentric
Size: 6U

CuSP will measure incoming solar radiation and magnetic fields.

EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft)
Builder/Operator: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, University of Tokyo
Orbit: Selenocentric
Size: 6U

EQUULEUS will measure the distribution of plasma surrounding the Earth.

LunaH-Map (Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper)
Builder/Operator: Arizona State University
Orbit: Selenocentric
Size: 6U

LunaH-Map will use a neutron detector to search for evidence of water ice in permanently shadowed lunar craters.

Illustration of NASA’s Lunar IceCube mission investigating lunar ice. (Credit: Morehead State University)

Lunar IceCube
Builder/Operator: Morehead State University/NASA (Busek Company, The Catholic University of America)
Orbit: Lunar polar
Size: 6U

Lunar IceCube will use an infrared spectrometer to detect water and organic compounds in the lunar surface and exosphere.

LunIR
Builder/Operator: Lockheed Martin Space (Satellite bus: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems)
Trajectory: Lunar flyby
Size: 6U

LunIR will collect spectroscopy and thermography data on the lunar surface during a flyby. Lockheed Martin said that a weaker than expected signal was received from the spacecraft. Engineers are evaluating next steps.

The Bad

OMOTENASHI (Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor)
Builder/Operator: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Function: Lunar lander
Size: 6U

OMOTENASHI is designed to land measure the radiation environment around the moon before attempting a semi-hard landing on the surface using solid rocket motors. Controllers have reported OMOTENASHI is tumbling, making it difficult for the spacecraft to charge its batteries and communicate with the ground. Controllers are continuing recovery attempts.

The Unknown

Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout)
Builder/Operator: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (with help from other NASA centers)
Type: Solar Sail
Size: 6U

NEA Scout is a solar sail mission designed to conduct a flyby of a near-Earth asteroid. No signal has been received from the spacecraft yet.

Team Miles
Builder/Operator: Fluid and Reason LLC
Orbit: Heliocentric
Size: 6U

Team Miles is designed to demonstrate low-thrust plasma propulsion in deep space.