NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 (NanoRacks-LEMUR-2) - 05.24.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
About 90 percent of global trade is shipped by sea, but tracking of oceangoing ships is inefficient; many ships are unmonitored as they transit the world’s oceans, far from land and out of range of ground-based beacons. The NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 satellites are part of a remote sensing satellite constellation that provides global ship tracking and weather monitoring. The satellites in this investigation are deployed from both the International Space Station (ISS) and the visiting space vehicle, demonstrating the technology at a range of altitude bands.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Jenny Barna, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Jenny Barna, Spire Global, Inc., San Francisco, CA, United States

Information Pending

Spire Global, Inc., San Francisco, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - April 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Spire, previously Nanosatisfi, has launched 3 cubesats from the ISS: Ardusat-1, Ardusat-2 and Ardusat-X. In addition, 5 3U cubesats have been placed into orbit; LEMUR-1 was launched on a Dnepr in June 2014 and 4 LEMUR-2 satellites were launched on a PSLV in September 2015.

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Today tracking of oceangoing ships is of limited use; information is gathered and delivered very infrequently to those that need it, making it useful almost exclusively for historical understanding; it loses its value ‘in the moment’ for real applications for both the public and private sectors, an issue given that 90% of global trade transits over the ocean.
  • Weather is a truly global system; satellites offer the only means to measure the entire global weather system in a reliable, consistent, and cost efficient manner; the total number of satellites in orbit that are providing weather data today is diminishing due to age and other factors resulting in weather forecasts across the globe that are often inaccurate, unreliable, or only meaningful in the short term.
  • Spire’s many small satellites provide close to real time information from anywhere on Earth. In the maritime sector, these satellites increase safety and security across the planet’s oceans (for example, search and rescue, piracy prevention, etc.). In addition, Spire’s satellites massively increase the amount of raw weather data available for global weather forecasts resulting in higher accuracy, consistency, and the potential for longer range forecasting.
  • NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 allows Spire to validate specific elements of its technology (for example, antenna deployment mechanisms, satellite-to-ground communications link, etc.), as well as its market offering for maritime and weather data. With results from this research, Spire will begin deployment of its full constellation of satellites to deliver near real time updates on maritime and weather data from anywhere on Earth.

Spire Global, Inc. is launching a constellation of commercial remote sensing CubeSats that collect both maritime data (large vessel tracking) and atmospheric weather data utilizing a Global Positioning System (GPS) Radio Occultation sensor.

^ back to top


Space Applications
The CubeSats in this investigation are built by Spire, a small satellite communications company dedicated to expanding data collection from space. Spire’s many small satellites provide near-real-time information from anywhere on Earth, enabling more accurate weather forecasts, shipping data and other information. By launching from the ISS, Spire can deploy several small satellites at once, lowering cost and improving access to space.

Earth Applications
Better data on where ships are located benefits consumers and private industry. Improved ocean monitoring enables shipping companies to plan more efficiently; allows insurance companies to understand risks and fault; and assists coast guards in policing territorial waters and preventing piracy and illegal fishing. The satellites in NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 also dramatically increase the amount of raw weather data available for forecasts, improving weather prediction around the globe.

^ back to top


Operational Requirements and Protocols

NanoRacks CubeSats are delivered to the ISS already integrated within a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD). A crew member transfers each NRCSD from the launch vehicle to the JEM. Visual inspection for damage to each NRCSD is performed. When CubeSat deployment operations begin, the NRCSDs are unpacked, mounted on the JAXA Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) and placed on the JEM airlock slide table for transfer outside the ISS. A crew member operates the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS) – to grapple and position for deployment. CubeSats are deployed when JAXA ground controllers command a specific NRCSD.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Information Pending

^ back to top

Related Websites

^ back to top


NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 is being loaded into the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. Image courtesy of Spire Global, Inc.

+ View Larger Image

Spire engineer Shaina is running tests on the NanoRacks-LEMUR-2 qualification model. Included in the photo: Shaina Johl, Joel Spark. Image courtesy of Spire Global, Inc.

+ View Larger Image