CloudSat Frictionless Test Platform

Olin-NASA Research Group > Projects > Cloud CubeSat

What is a CubeSat?

The CubeSat Project was developed by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and Stanford University's Space Systems Development Lab. The goal of the program is to give educational institutions access to space by providing opportunities to launch student-created satellites. Over 60 universities and high schools are currently participating in the CubeSat program.

Image from http://cubesat.atl.calpoly.edu

A CubeSat satellite is 10cm x 10cm x 10cm and weighs less than 1kg. Their small size allows CubeSat deployment to be added onto other missions, instead of requiring their own launch. A special launch mechanism called the Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer launches three CubeSats at once into a Low-Earth Orbit.

Without the expense of a dedicated mission and the small size of any components needed, a CubeSat is a low-risk test platform for new ideas. It is also excellent way for students to gain experience in aerospace engineering on a project that will actually be launched into space.

For more information, visit the CubeSat Program's web page.