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TECH SPACE
JPL and Caltech Cubesat Proposals Move Forward
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 15, 2012


Artists rendition of Montana State University's Explorer-1 [Prime] CubeSat. Source: Montana State University, Space Science and Engineering Laboratory.

Explorer-1 [Prime] 1U CubeSa
Explorer-1 [Prime] 1U CubeSat was built by students and staff of the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory at Montana State University. The first flight unit was launched on a NASA Taurus XL launch that sadly delivered the GLORY spacecraft payload (and its three university CubeSat payloads) into the Antarctic Ocean in March 2011.

Subsequently, the student team at MSU refurbished the flight spare, referred to locally as "E1P-FU2". Unit 2 was them successfully launched from Vandenberg on the Delta-II that carried the first NPP satellite into orbit on October 28, 2011.

This launch was a huge success, and the Explorer-1 (E1P-FU2) CubeSat has now completed over 1500 orbits in LEO. Shortly after launch it was renamed the William A. Hiscock Radiation Belt Explorer (HRBE).

The E1P satellites both carried original James A. Van Allen Geiger Counters to measure variations in the location and intensity of the Van Allen Radiation Belts. The satellite is being operated by students using a ground station at Montana State University.

NASA has selected 33 small satellites - including two Cubesats from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in partnership with the California Institute of Technology, both in Pasadena - to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2013 and 2014.

The proposed CubeSats come from universities across the country, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, NASA field centers and Department of Defense organizations.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches (102 centimeters) long, have a volume of about one quart (nearly a liter) and weigh less than three pounds (1.35 kilograms).

The selections are from the third round of the CubeSat Launch Initiative. After launch, the satellites will conduct technology demonstrations, educational research or science missions.

The selected spacecraft are eligible for flight after final negotiations and an opportunity for flight becomes available. The satellites come from the following organizations:

+ Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

+ Air Force Research Lab, Wright-Patterson AFB

+ California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

+ Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

+ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

+ Montana State University, Bozeman

+ Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif. (2 CubeSats)

+ NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

+ NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

+ NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in partnership with the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (2 CubeSats)

+ NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

+ The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, Silver Spring, Md.

+ Saint Louis University, St. Louis

+ Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Mont.

+ Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala. (2 CubeSats)

+ Taylor University, Upland, Ind.

+ University of Alabama, Huntsville

+ University of California, Berkeley

+ University of Colorado, Boulder (2 CubeSats)

+ University of Hawaii, Manoa (3 CubeSats)

+ University of Illinois, Urbana (2 CubeSats)

+ University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

+ University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D.

+ University of Texas, Austin

+ U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

+ Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg

Of the 32 CubeSat missions that were selected for launch in the previous two rounds of the CubeSat Launch Initiative, two were from JPL. Eight CubeSat missions have been launched (including the JPL-developed M-Cubed/COVE Cubesat) to date via the agency's Launch Services Program Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNa, program.

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