With key space weather satellites expected to fail before U.S. and European agencies launch replacements, “small satellites may be the only way of averting a bleak future,” said Daniel Baker, director of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
The success a pair of cubesats achieved in relaying telemetry from NASA’s InSight Mars lander demonstrates that such spacecraft can play increasing roles in future deep space missions, spacecraft designers believe.
In an exhibit hall filled with metal spacecraft components, it was hard to miss the pink unicorn perched on a cubesat at the Innovative Solutions in Space booth.
A startup developing small communications satellites will fund the launch of a student-built satellite selected through a competition.
Startups Kepler Communications and Phasor said Sept. 10 that they successfully demonstrated a link between Kepler’s cubesat and a Phasor flat panel antenna.
French maritime-tracking company CLS is starting a 120 million euro ($139 million) effort to build, launch and operate a constellation of 20 small satellites for connecting Internet of Things devices at sea and elsewhere.
A technology using a tiny laser tracker could help resolve one of the major challenges involved with the launching of cubesats: identifying individual satellites after their deployment.
As concerns grow about orbital debris and the need for space traffic management, cubesats without propulsion have no means to maneuver to avoid collisions or deorbit at the end of their operational lives.
Planet and Spire, operators of the two largest commercial cubesat constellations in orbit, say they manage their fleets to prevent retired spacecraft from lingering in space beyond internationally accepted guidelines.
NASA signed its first contract with small satellite rideshare company Spaceflight to launch as many as 72 cubesats between now and 2020 for a total price of up to $5.5 million.
Iridium Communications, in the first of what the company signaled could be many similar partnerships with new smallsat operators, has announced a collaborative agreement with a startup to expand its offerings in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) market.
Sky and Space Global, an Australian satellite startup with offices in London, Israel and Poland, successfully sent voice, text and imagery over a trio of prototype cubesats meant to pave the way for a constellation of 200 by the end of the decade.
As cubesats move from technology demonstrations and university projects to operational missions for companies and government agencies, ensuring those spacecraft are sufficiently reliable is a growing issue for the industry.
During the time after its departure, the spacecraft deployed four cubesats and performed a fire experiment.
An undisclosed customer is paying Capella Space $10 million upfront to gain access to the San Francisco startup’s Synthetic Aperture Radar data stream.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted off on schedule with its payload of 104 satellites, all but three of which were cubesats.
Despite concerns about reliability and access to launch vehicles, the small satellite industry expects the number of cubesats to continue to grow as they find new applications.
A National Academies report recommends that NASA and the National Science Foundation make greater use of cubesats for science missions, while also centralizing the management of NASA’s diverse cubesat efforts.