NASA Cubesat Launch Contract Expected By September

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LOGAN, Utah — NASA expects to award a contract for dedicated launches of cubesats by the end of September, an agency official said Aug. 10.

Garrett Skrobot, mission manager for NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program, said that he expects to award a contract for “Venture Class” launch services before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. NASA released the request for proposals for the program June 12, with responses due a month later.

“We have proposals in house that we’re reviewing right now,” he said during a NASA small satellite town hall meeting, held here during the Conference on Small Satellites. “Hopefully we’ll make selections by the end of September.”

NASA announced the Venture Class program in May. The program seeks to award contracts for the launch of 60 kilograms of cubesats, either on one or two launches. The program, Skrobot and other NASA officials said then, was driven by the demand of smallsat developers to have more control of when they launch and what orbits they can fly in.

Skrobot said that NASA also expects to make an award by the end of September on a contract for a commercial broker to handle launches of cubesats for NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) program, rather than have the agency do that work internally. “This is a different approach for us, more hands-off,” he said.

Under the CSLI program, NASA had selected more than 100 payloads for launch, typically as secondary payloads on NASA missions.

NASA released Aug. 6 the latest CSLI announcement for launch opportunities in the 2016–2019 timeframe.