NASA Selects University Nanosatellite Program Summer Series Winners

A pair of students install a solar array panel during the flight assembly of LightCube.
A pair of students from Arizona State University install a solar array panel during the flight assembly of LightCube. From left to right: David Ordaz Perez and Chandler Hutchens. Image courtesy of Jaime Sanchez de la Vega.

NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) has partnered with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force to select eight schools for the University Nanosatellite Program (UNP) Mission Concepts-1: 2023 Summer Series. Running from May through August, the program provides students with systems engineering training, preparing them to work in the space industry while simultaneously enhancing small satellite expertise among faculty at U.S. universities.

A total of 21 universities applied for this year’s UNP Mission Concepts-1 Summer Series. Proposals were reviewed by a mix of NASA, Air Force, and contractor personnel who selected universities based on the educational impact, university program impact/development, minority outreach/support, and NASA/Department of Defense relevance. This year’s selections are:

  • Florida Institute of Technology – Melbourne, Florida
  • University of the Virgin Islands – U.S. Virgin Islands
  • University of South Florida – Tampa, Florida
  • University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology – Rolla, Missouri
  • New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Columbia University – New York City, New York
  • Tarleton State University – Stephenville, Texas

Of this year’s awardees, one is a historically Black university, marking the first time a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) has won a UNP competition and the second time in 12 years a HBCU has won a CSLI competition. Two other awardees are Hispanic serving institutions. The teams will meet at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-day kickoff meeting in May, followed by a month-long stay at the Air Force’s UNP facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June, where four students will be hired as interns with the Space Dynamics Laboratory.

After spending one month in New Mexico, they will return to their university for the following month where throughout the summer they and other participating students will take part in educational workshops and exercises. The students will be seated near SmallSats experts for continuous feedback and guidance to help improve university proposals and increase those teams’ potential of being selected to fly to space as part of NASA’s CSLI and the U.S. Air Force UNP. Both CSLI and UNP will make their selections for future flights in 2024.

Final presentations will take place in Albuquerque and although not required, participants are encouraged to also attend the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah. The program provides funding for all travel – including kickoff, final event, and in-person reviews – allowing faculty and students to formulate teams without straining university resources.

CSLI is one of many ways NASA is attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines. This strengthens NASA’s and the nation’s future workforce. Further, the initiative promotes and develops innovative technology partnerships among NASA, U.S. industry, and other sectors for the benefit of agency programs and projects.

For more information about NASA’s CSLI, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative

 

NASA to Launch Small Satellites on Next SpaceX Cargo Mission

Middle schoolers are sending their science fair project to space, one of five CubeSats on a ride-share on a Commercial Resupply Services, CRS-25. The CapSat-1 team are three 7th-grade students from the Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Middle schoolers are sending their science fair project to space, one of five CubeSats on a ride-share on the 25th Commercial Resupply Services, CRS-25. The CapSat-1 team are three 7th-grade students from the Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo credit: Weiss School

NASA’s Launch Services Program is preparing to send five CubeSats to the International Space Station as part of the ELaNa 45 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) mission aboard SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-25) mission for NASA. Liftoff is scheduled for June 7 from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The small satellites were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which provides low-cost access to space for U.S. educational institutions, NASA centers, and others to develop and demonstrate novel technologies in space and to inspire and grow the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists.

The CubeSats were developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida; and the University of South Alabama in Mobile. The CubeSats will be deployed from the space station.

NASA has selected over 200 CubeSat missions from more than 100 unique organizations representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico through the CubeSat Launch Initiative since 2010. To date, 134 CubeSat missions have launched into space through ELaNa rideshare opportunities.

NASA Announces 13th Round of Candidates for CubeSat Space Missions

A map showing the next round of CubeSat Launch Initiative selections for the 2023-2026 timeframe.
NASA has selected eight small research satellites from seven states to fly as either auxiliary payloads or deployments from the International Space Station during the 2023-2026 timeframe. Photo credit: NASA

NASA has selected eight small research satellites from seven states to fly as either auxiliary payloads or deployments from the International Space Station (ISS). These missions are currently planned to launch in the 2023-2026 timeframe. The selected CubeSats were proposed by educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and NASA centers in response to NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) call for proposals issued on August 9, 2021.

The organizations and the CubeSats chosen during this selection round are:

  • Arizona State University – Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Virtual Super-Resolution Optics with Reconfigurable Swarms (VISORS)
  • NASA Langley Research Center – ARCSTONE
  • California Polytechnic State University – Additively Manufactured Deployable Radiator with Oscillating Heat Pipes (AMDROHPSat)
  • Olin College – Space Weather Atmospheric Reconfigurable Multiscale Experiment (SWARM-EX)
  • University of New Hampshire – 3U3-A
  • Utah State University – Active Cooling for Multispectral Earth Sensors (ACMES)
  • Arizona State University – Deployable Optical Receiver Aperture (DORA)

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