A three-unit cube sat, approximately four by four by 12 inches. Image credit: NASA
NASA Selects CubeSat Technology Projects for Future Launches
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA recently selected cubesat projects for flight opportunities as part of its CubeSat Launch Initiative in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
Three of these projects are sponsored by the Space Technology Mission Directorate and are managed by the Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and will be launched by the Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
These cubesats are research spacecraft that weigh less than five pounds and measure approximately four by four by 12 inches. These miniature spacecraft will be launched to Earth orbit as auxiliary payloads between 2014 and 2016.
The selected cubesat missions include: (1) Optical Communication and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD), developed by Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, Calif., featuring a pair of 1.5-unit cubesats that will demonstrate proximity operations in addition to optical communications technologies; (2) Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA), developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that will demonstrate high bandwidth communications technologies for cubesats; and (3) Cubesat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD), developed by Tyvak Nanosatellite Systems, LLC, Tustin, Calif., that will demonstrate proximity operations in low-Earth orbit, followed by an attempt to dock two three-unit cubesats for the first time in space.
“Benefitting from a vibrant small spacecraft community that already exists, including participants from industry, academia and other government agencies, the SSTP program directs its efforts in complimentary directions that take advantage of NASA’s unique capabilities and assets, such as the CubeSat Launch Initiative,” said Bruce Yost, SSTP’s program manager at Ames.
NASA’s new Space Technology Mission Directorate was formed as a catalyst for the creation of technologies and innovation needed to maintain NASA leadership in space, while also benefiting America's economy. To develop these cross-cutting, advanced and pioneering new technologies needed for NASA's current and future missions, the Small Spacecraft Technology Program was created to develop and demonstrate new technologies and capabilities for small spacecraft.
The primary objectives of the SSTP are to (1) develop new and revolutionary technologies to enhance or expand the capabilities of small spacecraft, (2) support flight demonstrations of new technologies, capabilities and applications for small spacecraft, and (3) use small spacecraft as platforms for testing and demonstrating technologies and capabilities that might have applications in spacecraft and systems of any size.
For more information about the Space Technologies Mission Directorate, please see:
For more information about the Small Spacecraft Technologies Program, please see:
For more information about the CubeSat Launch Initiative, please see:
Text issued as NASA Ames release 13-21AR
Ruth Dasso Marlaire
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.