NASA Announces Ninth Round of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 small research satellites from seven states and Puerto Rico to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard space missions planned to launch in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

The selections are part of the ninth round of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. CubeSats are a type of spacecraft called nanosatellites, often measuring about four inches on each side and weighing less than three pounds, with a volume of about one quart. CubeSats are built using these standard dimensions as Units or “U”, and are classified as 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in total size.

(more…)

2017: A Year of Progress and Poised for the Future

ISARA’s three antenna panels feature a printed circuit board pattern that narrowly focuses the CubeSat’s radio transmission beam in much the same way a parabolic dish reflector does. (Credit: Nanoracks)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Throughout 2017, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) made noteworthy progress in maturing and demonstrating technologies to bolster America’s space agenda, while setting the stage for vital advancements within the next several years.

From expanding the utilization of space in low-Earth orbit and enabling new scientific discoveries, to advancing capabitilties for robotic and human exploration of deep space destinations – STMD is executing a broad cross-cutting agenda, one that is pioneering groundbreaking technologies and knowhow.

(more…)

Three CubeSats Get Rides on First SLS-Orion Flight

Three teams earned a $20,000 prize check and a slot to launch their CubeSat on Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of NASA’s Space Launch System. NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA’s Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. (Credit: NASA/Dominic Hart)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded rides for three small spacecraft on the agency’s newest rocket, and $20,000 each in prize money, to the winning teams of citizen solvers competing in the semi-final round of the agency’s Cube Quest Challenge.

(more…)

Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: SEDS Triteia

Triteia spacecraft is designed for maneuvering into lunar orbit. (Credits: SEDS/Triteia)

SAN DIEGO (NASA PR) — Triteia is the Cube Quest Challenge entry from the University of California, San Diego’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). As part of their approach, they are making use of an additively manufactured thruster for their spacecraft.

This 3D-printed engine thruster is vital for the semi-autonomous, chemically propelled 6U CubeSat to make its journey to the moon, then maneuvering to enter lunar orbit.
(more…)

Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: Cislunar Explorers

A rendering of team Cislunar Explorers’ spacecraft. Two of these spacecraft are mated together to form a 6U-sized CubeSat, small enough to fit inside a briefcase. (Credits: Cornell University/Cislunar Explorers Team)

ITHACA, NY (NASA PR) — Tenacity and drive are hallmarks of Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers Team. But there is another key factor in building and testing their spacecraft: Just add water.

“The core concept behind our work is using water as rocket fuel,” said project manager Kyle Patrick Doyle. “It’s something that we’ve been looking at for a long time, and it’s exciting to have a chance to test our technology in space.”

(more…)

Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: CU-E3

Structures team member Raj Bansal assembling the CU-E3 prototype structure. (Credit: Team CU-E3)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — The shoebox-size CU Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) is being assembled by the University of Colorado, Boulder, Aerospace Engineering Science Graduate Projects Class.

CU-E3 is designed for a communications technology demonstration mission, slated to travel more than 2.5 million miles into space. As a Deep Space Derby entry, the diminutive spacecraft will reach an orbit of about 10 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
(more…)

Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: Ragnarok Industries

Heimdallr Cubesat (Credit: Ragnarok Industries)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Ragnarok Industries is busily working on its Cube Quest Challenge entry, a 6U smallsat named Heimdallr. The spacecraft will feature electric propulsion to reach lunar orbit, explains Luigi Balarinni, chief executive officer and co-founder of the firm.

A big plus in their design and building of Heimdallr is partnering with a diversity of space industry companies, furthering their objective of advancing CubeSat applications in the near future.

(more…)

Cube Quest Challenge Spotlight: Team Miles

A plume from thruster testing of Team Miles’ CubeSat. The Miles mission will be flown autonomously by an onboard computer system and propelled by evolutionary plasma thrusters. (Credit: Team Miles)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — For Team Miles and their CubeSat entry, it’s about propelling citizen science to the moon…and beyond.

The breadbox-size Miles is a 6U satellite built to navigate into deep space.

(more…)

Smallsat 2016: NASA Program & Mission Updates

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)
Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter.  Information has come from the following Tweeters:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave
  • Hanna Steplewska ‏@spacesurfingirl
  • Augie Allen ‏@AugieAllen
  • RITSpaceExploration ‏@RITSPEX

Enjoy!
(more…)

NASA Awards Second-Round Prizes in Cube Quest Challenge

NASA_Cube_Quest_Challenge
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded $30,000 each to the five top-scoring teams that competed in the latest segment of the agency’s small satellite Cube Quest competition. Cube Quest is a $5 million challenge that requires teams to design, build and deliver flight-qualified CubeSats capable of advanced operations near and beyond the moon. It is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, which engages the public to compete to solve challenges that will benefit the agency and the nation.
(more…)

Top Entries from NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge Get Ride to Deep Space

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — When the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft make their inaugural flight in 2018, called Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), three of the 13 small satellites that will be hitchhiking a ride to deep space destinations such as Earth’s moon and asteroids to gather data valuable to future exploration missions will be the top competitors of the Cube Quest Challenge.

(more…)

NASA Cube Quest Challenge Reaches First Milestone

CubeSat
CubeSat

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The first milestone of NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge has been reached, as teams competed in the first of four ground tournaments in August. The five highest-scoring competitors will each be awarded $20,000.

Cube Quest is a competition to build flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced communication and propulsion near and beyond the moon. Teams that achieve top performance at high-speed data communications, navigation and survival after achieving lunar orbit or a minimum long-distance range from Earth compete for an unprecedented $5.5 million prize purse in NASA’s first ever in-space challenge. Cube Quest is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, which accelerates technology by engaging non-traditional sources in competition.

(more…)

Triumph & Tragedy: The Year in Commercial Space 2014 (Part I)

Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)
Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

The year 2014 was one of steady progress and major setbacks in commercial space. Here is a rundown of some of the major developments and trends of the year. A later will look more closely at some of the companies in the industry.

A Crash in the Desert. The tragic loss of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and death of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury on Oct. 31 sent shock waves through the space community. The ship was ripped apart over the Mojave Desert about 13 seconds into a powered flight test when its twin tail booms suddenly deployed. Pilot Pete Siebold was thrown free of the wreckage and landed under parachute, battered and bruised but alive.

(more…)