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NASA Invites CubeSat Launch Initiative Applications


NASA has invited accredited education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and NASA centers to submit applications for the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). Applicants must submit proposals by November 21. Educational CubeSats often carry Amateur Radio payloads.

“The CSLI provides CubeSat developers with a low-cost pathway to conduct research in space that advances NASA’s strategic goals in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education and operations.” The announcement said. “The initiative allows students, teachers and faculty to gain hands-on experience designing, building, and operating these small research satellites.”

To date, NASA has selected 151 CubeSat missions for its CSLI program, and 49 of these have been launched into space. NASA has offered a launch opportunities to 95% of those selected, with 44 scheduled for launch within the next 12 months. The selected CubeSats represent participants from 38 states and 85 unique organizations across the country.

NASA will announce its selections by February 16, 2018, and selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. Selected experiments will be considered as auxiliary payloads on NASA launches or for deployment from the International Space Station (ISS) starting in 2018 and continuing through 2021. US nonprofit and accredited educational organizations are responsible for funding the development of the small satellites.

For this round of the initiative, NASA is particularly interested in participation from organizations in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 12 states not previously selected. These states are Delaware, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

CubeSats are part of a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites and are built to standard dimensions of 10 × 10 × 11 centimeters, which are called units or U. They can be 1U, 2U, 3U, or 6U in size, and typically weigh less than 3 pounds (1.33 kilograms) per unit. The final mass of a CubeSat depends on the selected deployment method.

NASA said small satellites like CubeSats play a valuable role in its exploration, technology, educational, and science investigations, including planetary exploration, Earth observation, and fundamental Earth and space science. “They are a cornerstone in the development of cutting-edge NASA technologies like laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications and autonomous movement,” the agency said.

Visit the NASA CSLI web page for additional information.