Military Embedded Systems

NASA CubeSat initiative accepting applicants for next round


August 20, 2015

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

NASA CubeSat initiative accepting applicants for next round

WASHINGTON. NASA officials announced the next round of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which provides access to space for CubeSats developed by NASA centers, accredited educational institutions and non-profit organizations. Applicants must submit their proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 24.

To apply, click here.

The initiative gives CubeSat developers access to a low-cost way to perform research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations consistent with NASA's Strategic Plan. Agency officials note that NASA does not provide funding for the development of the small satellites.


Payload selection is planned to be completed by Feb. 19, 2016, but the selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. Selected experiments will fly as auxiliary payloads on agency rocket launches or be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in 2016 and then running through 2019. So far, NASA has chosen 105 CubeSats from 30 states. Thirty-seven CubeSats have been launched, and 16 more are planned to go into space over the next 12 months.

For more on small satellites, read "Small satellites increasingly tapping COTS components."

NASA has made progress on a goal established during the White House Maker Faire last year to launch a small satellite from at least one participant in each state over the next five years, according to the agency. For this round, NASA is focusing on gaining participation in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 20 states not previously selected for the CubeSat Launch Initiative. These states are: Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.

CubeSats are classified as research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The base CubeSat dimensions are 10 by 10 by 11 centimeters, or about 4 by 4 by 4 inches, which equals one Cube, or 1U. CubeSats supported by this launch effort include volumes of 1U, 2U, 3U, and 6U. CubeSats of 1U, 2U and 3U size typically have a mass of 1.33 kilograms, or about three pounds per 1U. A 6U CubeSat typically has a mass of 12 to 14 kilograms, or 26.5 to 30.9 pounds. The CubeSat's final mass depends on the selected deployment method.

For additional information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit


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