CubeSats are important mini satellites that have huge roles in both the scientific and commercial sectors.
CubeSats were pioneered by California Polytechnic State University in 1999 and quickly became popular tools for students seeking to learn all aspects of spacecraft design and development.
Today, CubeSats are opening up space research to public and private entities like never before.
With off-the-shelf parts and a compact size that allows them to hitch a ride with other missions, CubeSats feature versatility. For example, CubeSats can be ejected from the International Space Station up to six at a time.
But perhaps the feature that makes CubeSats most accessible to all, is cost. CubeSats have slashed the cost of satellite development, opening up doors to test new instruments as well as to create constellations of satellites working together.
The construction of a CubeSat using COTS is currently achievable and is already being done by hobbyist groups, universities, research labs and private entrepreneurs. The manufacturing cost of a 1U CubeSat kit is currently pegged at $50,000 which makes it a very affordable proposition.
However, the important thing to remember is not the cost-economics of manufacturing (which are on a downward trajectory) but the low costs surrounding launch of CubeSats.
In fact, given the starkly lower cost of individual CubeSats or even a constellation of CubeSats vis-à-vis conventional satellites, the former provide much wider scope of testing experimental payloads and exploitation of a wide range of services which aren’t feasible on mainstream satellite buses many which have reached the end of their technological maturity.
The possibility of an open-ended space infrastructure could perhaps only be realized via CubeSats which would a group of companies to develop service-oriented solutions for space applications much the same way as technology start-ups have revolutionized the digital economy by leveraging an ubiquitous, and for the most part standardized, internet architecture.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Introductions to CubeSat, a 2-day course covering the basic concepts and processes for CubeSat analysis, design and developments. Participants will learn about the CubeSats or miniature satellites that have been used exclusively in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and can be used for exploring and interplanetary missions.
Please contact us for more information.