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.

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CubeSats Deployed From ISS

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — NanoRacks began the first of two airlock cycles for the 11th and 12th NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Missions (NRCSD-11, NRCSD-12) on May 16, 2017. We are pleased to update our customers, friends, and shareholders that the first round of deployments has been completed successfully.

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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.

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ESA Selects 6 CubeSats in Fly Your Satellite Competition

Student teams during a tour of the facilities at ESTEC. (Credit: ESA)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — Six university teams have been selected for the second edition of the Fly Your Satellite! programme after an intensive week at the Selection Workshop, held at ESTEC from 1st to 5th May. The CubeSats evaluation and selection were carried out by a CubeSat Evaluation Panel, consisting of ESA experts from a range of disciplines.

The Fly Your Satellite! programme released a call for proposals on 20 December 2016 for its second edition. Since then, teams from many universities have been working hard to prepare proposals which were reviewed by the CubeSat Evaluation Panel.

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Coming Soon: CubeSats with Frickin’ Laser Beams

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Laser communications systems have become the next big thing in spacecraft design, promising improved communications. And now NASA is looking to put them on CubeSats.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking sources of compact laser transmitters that could be placed on one of these small satellites for a future technology demonstration space flight mission.

“Goddard is developing a CUBESat spacecraft with science mission payload for a multiple unit CUBESat spacecraft that will generate >1 Gbit/day science data at distances up to 0.5 Astronomical Units (AU). Reference 1 gives a notional CUBESat laser communications system concept,” the center said in the RFI.

“The purpose of this RFI is to solicit specific capability information from industry on master- oscillator power-amplifier (MOPA) laser communication transmitter technologies. This will be used for a cost, schedule and technical assessment to assist with preparing for a possible near-future NASA CUBESat spacecraft technology demonstration,” the RFI adds.

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Astrobotic Selected for NASA Small Business Award to Develop Lunar CubeRover


Astrobotic Technology has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop a new class of rover to evaluate conditions on the lunar surface.

“The proposed innovation is a Lunar CubeRover specialized as a 2 kg payload to evaluate lander ejecta and to characterize small-rover trafficability,” the proposal states. “This CubeRover and its roles are specific to the RFP though broadly more general and impactful for exploration enterprise.

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CSA to Provide $200K for Student CubeSats

LONGUEUIL, Quebec, April 27, 2017 (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) plans to award 13 grants of about $200,000 to post-secondary institutions as part of a challenge to design, build, launch and operate their own satellites. This initiative will help equip young Canadians with the skills and experience needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The CSA’s Canadian CubeSat Project will support proposals representing each province and territory. The winning teams, composed of professors and students, will take part in a real space mission by designing and building a miniature satellite called a CubeSat. This unique, hands-on experience will enable students to acquire expertise in a wide variety of areas—ranging from science, to engineering, to communicating their work with the public—and give them the opportunity to develop invaluable skills to transition into the workforce in the global innovation economy.

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Cygnus Delivers NanoRacks’ Largest CubeSat Mission to ISS

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — Orbital ATK’s Cygnus (OA-7) spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning after launching Tuesday, April 18th from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This mission is NanoRacks’ largest CubeSat mission to date – carrying 38 CubeSats to be deployed from NanoRacks deployers on both the ISS and on the outside of Cygnus.

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U.S. National Lab Research Payloads Headed for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) The Orbital ATK Cygnus vehicle launched on its seventh cargo resupply mission (CRS-7) to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V vehicle, carrying more than 40 ISS U.S. National Laboratory sponsored investigations.

The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is chartered to facilitate research in the microgravity environment that benefits life on Earth. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is leading the effort in partnership with NASA, industry, other government organizations, and academia to manage and promote the best use of the ISS National Lab.

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ExoTerra to Become First Privately Owned Space Company to Fly to an Asteroid

Solar electric propulsion system. (Credit: ExoTerra Resources)

LITTLETON, Colo., March 27, 2017 (Exoterra PR) — NASA has awarded ExoTerra Corporation a $2.5M contract to demonstrate a novel solar electric propulsion system for CubeSats that will enable the shoebox-sized spacecraft to triple their available power and produce over 2.5 km/s of propulsion.

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NASA Selects CubeSat, SmallSat Mission Concept Studies


WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected ten studies under the Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) program, to develop mission concepts using small satellites to investigate Venus, Earth’s moon, asteroids, Mars and the outer planets.

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NASA Selects 10 CubeSat-Related Projects for SBIR Phase 2 Funding

Pathfinder technology demonstrator CubeSat (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected 10 CubeSat-related projects for funding under its most recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects. The space agency will enter into negotiations with the proposers for Phase II contracts worth up to $750,000 apiece over two years.

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Tethers Unlimited Selected for 3 SBIR Phase II Awards

NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited for negotiations on three Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contracts worth up to $750,000 apiece over two years.

The three projects include:

  • ERASMUS: Food Contact Safe Plastics Recycler and 3D Printer System;
  • Modular Advanced Networked Telerobotic Interface System (MANTIS); and,
  • OpenSWIFT-SDR for STRS.

ERASMUS would allow astronauts to recycle waste plastics and 3D print new items that would be safe for food and medical use.

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A Look at Payloads Launched in 2016

Built by Lockheed Martin, the WorldView-4 satellite will expand DigitalGlobe’s industry-leading constellation of high-accuracy, high-resolution satellites, and double the availability of 30 cm resolution imagery for commercial and government customers around the globe. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Excerpt from

The Annual Compendium of
Commercial Space Transportation: 2017

Federal Aviation Administration
Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST)

January 2017

State of the Payload Industry

Space industry companies and organizations worldwide, sometimes the same as launch vehicle manufacturers but also those specifically dedicated to spacecraft manufacturing, produce these spacecraft. Commercially launched payloads are typically used for the following mission types:

  • Commercial communications satellites;
  • Commercial remote sensing or Earth observation satellites;
  • Commercial crew and cargo missions, including on-orbit vehicles and platforms;
  • Technology test and demonstration missions, usually new types of payloads undergoing test or used to test new launch vehicle technology; and
  • Other commercially launched payloads, usually satellites launched for various purposes by governments of countries not having indigenous orbital launch capability.

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CubeSats: Shaping Possibilities in Space

CubeSats STMSat-1, CADRE and MinXSS are deployed from the International Space Station during Expedition 47. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — For more than a decade, CubeSats, or small satellites, have paved the way to low-Earth orbit for commercial companies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations. These small satellites offer opportunities to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space in such a way that is cost-effective, timely and relatively easy to accomplish.

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