CubeSats Initiative

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How to Apply

  • Announcement of Opportunity (PDF)
  • Proposer satisfies all AO requirements
  • “Must Have’s”
    • Demonstrated relevance to NASA
    • Conducted Scientific, Educational, or Technical Merit Review
    • Conducted Technical feasibility review
    • Show why an orbital flight is required
    • Reply by deadline in November
  • Selection Recommendations made at the end of January
  • Once recommended for selection:


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CubeSat Launch initiative (CSLI)

NASA’s CubeSat Launch initiative (CSLI) provides opportunities for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned for upcoming launches. These CubeSats are flown as auxiliary payloads on previously planned missions.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh about 3 pounds.  To participate in the CSLI program, CubeSat investigations should be consistent with NASA's Strategic Plan and the Education Strategic Coordination Framework. The research should address aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations.

cubesat image

By providing a progression of educational opportunities including CSLI for students, teachers, and faculty, NASA assists the Nation in attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines.  This strengthens NASA’s and the Nation’s future workforce.  Further, the CSLI promotes and develops innovative technology partnerships among NASA, U.S. industry, and other sectors for the benefit of Agency programs and projects.  NASA thus gains a mechanism to use CubeSats for low-cost technology development or pathfinders.

Satellites selected to date come from 25 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. These locations are depicted below.

CubeSat Launch Initiative Selectees

Basic CubeSat Facts

  • Built to standard dimensions (Units or “U”) of 10x10x11 cm – about 4 inches
  • Can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size
  • Weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per U
    • 6U may be up to 12-14 kg (TBD)
  • Deployed from standard “Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD)

ELaNa Cubesat Launches

CubeSats Missions Flown


Page Last Updated: April 14th, 2014
Page Editor: Erin Mahoney