CubeSats Initiative

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CubeSat Launch initiative (CSLI)

cubesat image

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.

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 29 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. These locations are depicted below.

CubeSat Missions Flown

Glory, March 4, 2011 

  • 3 CubeSats deployed, booster failed to achieve orbital velocity
  • Fact Sheet (PDF)

ELaNa II - Dec. 2013
NROL-39, Dec. 5, 2013

NPP, Oct. 28, 2011

ORS-3, Nov. 19, 2013

​SpX-3, Feb. 22, 2014

​NROL-36, Sept. 13, 2012

SMAP, January 31, 2015

Missions Scheduled

  • ELaNa-IX 
    • Nanoracks, HTV-5, NET Aug. 2015
    • Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
    • 2 CubeSats
      • Under review
  • ​ELaNa-XI
    • AFSPC-5/ULTRASat, Atlas V, NET 5/6/2015
    • Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.         
    • 1 CubeSat
      • LightSail-A​
  • ​ELaNa-XIII
    • FORMOSAT-5, Falcon 9, NET July 2015
    • Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.  
    • CubeSats
      • tbd   
  • ​ELaNa-XII
    • NROL-55, Atlas V, NET August 2015
    • Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.      
    • 4 CubeSats
      • BisonSat
      • Fox-1A
      • ARC-1
      • LMRSTSat​
  • ​ELaNa-VII
    • ORS-4, Super Strypi, NET January 2016
    • Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaii
    • 2 CubeSats
      • ARGUS
    • PrintSat​

50 CubeSats from 50 States

NASA seeks to expand the CubeSat Launch Initiative to include launching 50 small satellites from 50 states within five years. 

» Read more
» Download the announcement full text (2.3 MB PDF)
» View the announcement synopsis

What is a CubeSat?

Icon of Drexel University's DragonSatCubeSats are very small satellites built to standard dimensions (Units or “U”) of 10x10x11. They can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size, and typically weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per U. NASA's CubeSats are deployed from a Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer, or P-POD.

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Map of Selectees

Page Last Updated: February 10th, 2015
Page Editor: Erin Mahoney