CubeSat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from QB50)
Jump to: navigation, search
Ncube-2, a Norwegian CubeSat (10 cm cube)

A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), has a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms,[1] and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf components for its electronics.

Beginning in 1999, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University developed the CubeSat specifications to promote and develop the skills necessary for the design, manufacturing, and testing of small satellites intended for low Earth orbit (LEO) that perform a number of scientific research and explore new space technologies. Although the bulk of development and launches comes from academia, several companies build CubeSats such as large-satellite-maker Boeing, and several small companies. CubeSat projects have also been the subject of Kickstarter campaigns.[2] The CubeSat format is also popular with amateur radio satellite builders.

History[edit]

1U CubeSat structure

The CubeSat reference design was proposed in 1999 by professors Jordi Puig-Suari of California Polytechnic State University and Bob Twiggs of Stanford University.[3][4]:159 The goal was to enable graduate students to be able to design, build, test and operate in space a spacecraft with capabilities similar to that of the first spacecraft, Sputnik. The CubeSat as initially proposed did not set out to become a standard; rather, it became a standard over time by a process of emergence. The first CubeSats were launched in June 2003 on a Russian Eurockot, and approximately 75 CubeSats had been placed into orbit by 2012.[5]

The need for such a small-factor satellite became apparent in 1998 as a result of work done at Stanford University's Space System Development Laboratory. At SSDL students had been working on the OPAL (Orbiting Picosatellite Automatic Launcher) microsatellite since 1995. OPAL's mission to deploy daughter-ship "picosatellites" had resulted in the development of a launcher system that was "hopelessly complicated" and could only be made to work "most of the time". With the project's delays mounting, Twiggs sought out DARPA funding that resulted in the redesign of the launching mechanism into a simple pusher plate concept with the satellites held in place by a spring-loaded door.[4]:151–157

Desiring to shorten the development cycle experienced on OPAL and inspired by the picosatellites OPAL carried, Twiggs set out to find "how much could you reduce the size and still have a practical satellite". The picosatellites on OPAL were 10.1×7.6×2.5 cm, a size that was not conducive to covering all sides of the spacecraft with solar cells. Inspired by a 4-inch cubic plastic box used to display Beanie Babies in stores, Twiggs first settled on the larger 10-centimeter cube as a guideline for the new (yet-to-be-named) CubeSat concept. A model of a launcher was developed for the new satellite using the same pusher plate concept that had been used in the modified OPAL launcher. Twiggs presented the idea to Puig-Suari in the summer of 1999 and then at the Japan-U.S. Science, Technology, and Space Applications Program (JUSTSAP) conference in November 1999.[4]:157–159

The term "CubeSat" was coined to denote nanosatellites that adhere to the standards described in the CubeSat design specification. Cal Poly published the standard in an effort led by aerospace engineering professor Jordi Puig-Suari.[6] Bob Twiggs, of the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at Stanford University, and currently a member of the space science faculty at Morehead State University in Kentucky, has contributed to the CubeSat community.[7] His efforts have focused on CubeSats from educational institutions.[8] The specification does not apply to other cube-like nanosatellites such as the NASA "MEPSI" nanosatellite, which is slightly larger than a CubeSat.

Design[edit]

The CubeSat specification accomplishes several high-level goals. The main reason for miniaturizing satellites is to reduce the cost of deployment and are often suitable for launch in multiples, using the excess capacity of larger launch vehicles. The CubeSat design specifically minimizes risk to the rest of the launch vehicle and payloads. Encapsulation of the launcher–payload interface takes away the amount of work that would previously be required for mating a piggyback satellite with its launcher. Unification among payloads and launchers enables quick exchanges of payloads and utilization of launch opportunities on short notice.

The standard 10×10×10 cm basic CubeSat is often called a "one unit" or 1U CubeSat, has a volume of one liter, and weighs no more than 1 kg (2.2 lb). They are scalable along only one axis, by 1U increments. CubeSats such as a 2U CubeSat (20×10×10 cm) and a 3U CubeSat (30×10×10 cm) have been built and launched. In recent years larger CubeSat platforms have been proposed, most commonly 6U (10×20×30 cm or 12×24×36 cm[9]) and 12U (20x20x30 cm or 24x24x36 cm[9]), to extend the capabilities of CubeSats beyond academic and technology validation applications and into more complex science and national defense goals.

Scientist holding a CubeSat chassis

Since CubeSats are all 10×10 cm (regardless of length) they can all be launched and deployed using a common deployment system called a Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD), also developed and built by Cal Poly.[10] P-PODs are mounted to a launch vehicle and carry CubeSats into orbit and deploy them once the proper signal is received from the launch vehicle. P-PODs have deployed over 90% of all CubeSats launched to date, and 100% of all CubeSats launched since 2006. The P-POD Mk III has capacity for three 1U CubeSats, or other 1U, 2U, or 3U CubeSats combination up to a maximum volume of 3U.[11]

Different classifications are used to categorize such miniature satellites based on mass.[12] 1U CubeSats belong to the genre of picosatellites.

  1. Minisatellite (100–500 kg)
  2. Microsatellite (10–100 kg)
  3. Nanosatellite (1–10 kg)
  4. Picosatellite (0.1–1 kg)
  5. Femtosatellite (0.01–0.1 kg)

Most CubeSats carry one or two scientific instruments as their primary mission payload.

Propulsion and attitude control[edit]

Near-Earth Asteroid Scout concept: a controllable solar sail CubeSat

For mission safety, only a few CubeSats are equipped with a propulsion system that enables orbit correction or attitude control. Attitude control (or pointing control) always been challenging due primarily for volumetric constrains and lack of small attitude sensing. Hence, most CubeSat control designs rely on general tumbling or, at best, magnetic rate control with large attitude errors.[13] New proposals, for instance, may use solar-electric propulsion (ion thrusters), compressed gas, vaporizable liquids, such as butane or carbon dioxide, or other innovative propulsion systems that are simple, cheap and scalable.[12] One such example is the Illinois Observing Nanosatellite (ION) 2U CubeSat, destroyed at launch,[14] and built by the University of Illinois, that used three magnetic torque coils for a 3-axis control of the satellite.[15][16]

Other innovations employ a solar sail as its main propulsion and stability in deep space; three examples are the 3U NanoSail-D2 launched in 2010, the LightSail-1 scheduled for launch in April 2016,[17][18] and the proposed Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout).[19] The ESTCube-1 used an electric solar-wind sail. The ambitious 'Time Capsule to Mars' is a student-led project at the Duke University that proposes to use an electric propulsion concept under development at MIT called ion electrospray propulsion, a miniature form of electric propulsion and attitude control.[20][21]

Power[edit]

Winglet solar panels increase surface area and power generation

CubeSats use solar cells to convert solar light to electricity that is then stored in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that provide power during eclipse as well as during peak load times.[22] These satellites have a limited surface area on their external walls for solar cells assembly, and has to be effectively shared with other parts, such as antennas, optical sensors, camera lens, and access port. Recent innovations include additional spring-loaded solar arrays that deploy as soon as the satellite is released.

Telecommunications[edit]

The low cost of CubeSats have enabled unprecedented access to space for smaller institutions and organizations, but for most CubeSat forms, the range and available power is limited to about 2W for its communications antennae.[23][12] They can use radio-communication systems in the VHF, UHF, L-, S-, C- and X-band.[12] For UHF/VHF transmissions, a single helical antenna or four monopole antennae are deployed by a spring-loaded mechanism.[23][12]

Because of tumbling and low power range, radio-communications are a challenge. Many CubeSats use omnidirectional monopole or dipole antenna built with commercial measuring tape. For more demanding needs, some companies offer high-gain antennae for CubeSats, but their deployment and pointing systems are significantly more complex.[23][12] For example, MIT and JPL are developing an inflatable dish antenna with a useful range to the Moon.[24]

Costs[edit]

CubeSat forms a cost-effective independent means of getting a payload into orbit.[6] With their relatively small size, 1U CubeSats could each be made and launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) for an estimated cost (2014) of $65,000 to $80,000. After delays from low-cost launchers such as Interorbital Systems,[25] by 2015 launch prices have been $100,000[26]–$125,000,[27] plus approximately $10,000 to construct the CubeSat.[28] This price tag, far lower than most satellite launches, has made CubeSat a viable option for schools and dozens of universities and some companies around the world to develop their own CubeSats.

Notable past missions[edit]

Main article: List of CubeSats
Long CubeSats being launched from the ISS on February 25, 2014. The P-POD launcher is visible as well, attached to a robotic arm.

One of the earliest CubeSat launches was on 30 June 2003 from Plesetsk, Russia, with Eurockot Launch Services's Multiple Orbit Mission. CubeSats were put into a Sun-synchronous orbit and included the Danish AAU CubeSat and DTUSat, the Japanese XI-IV and CUTE-1, the Canadian Can X-1, and USA's Quakesat.[29]

On February 13, 2012, three PPODs containing seven CubeSats were placed into orbit along with the Lares satellite aboard an Avio Vega rocket launched from French Guyana. The CubeSats launched were e-st@r (Politecnico di Torino, Italy), Goliat (University of Bucarest, Romania), Masat-1 (Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary), PW-Sat (Warsaw University of Technology, Poland), Robusta (University of Montpellier 2, France), UniCubeSat-GG (University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy), and XaTcobeo (University of Vigo and INTA, Spain).[30]

On September 13, 2012, eleven CubeSats were launched from eight P-PODs, as part of the "OutSat" secondary payload aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.[31] This was the largest number of CubeSats (and largest volume of 24U) successfully placed to orbit on a single launch, this was made possible by use of the new NPS CubeSat Launcher system (NPSCuL) developed at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). The following CubeSats were placed in orbit: SMDC-ONE 2.2 (Baker), SMDC-ONE 2.1 (Able), AeroCube 4.0(x3), Aeneas, CSSWE, CP5, CXBN, CINEMA, and Re (STARE).[32]

Five CubeSats (Raiko, Niwaka, We-Wish, TechEdSat, F-1) were placed into orbit from the International Space Station on October 4, 2012, as a technology demonstration of small satellite deployment from the ISS. They were launched and delivered to ISS as a cargo of Kounotori 3, and an ISS astronaut prepared the deployment mechanism attached to Japanese Experiment Module's robotic arm.[33][34][35]

ESTCube-1 is the first satellite in history to use an electric solar wind sail (E-Sail)

Four CubeSats were deployed from the Cygnus Mass Simulator, which was launched April 21, 2013 on the maiden flight of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket.[36] Three of them are 1U PhoneSats built by NASA's Ames Research Center to demonstrate the use of smart phones as avionics in CubeSats. The fourth was a 3U satellite, called Dove-1, built by Planet Labs.

The working principles of the theoretical electric solar wind sail (E-Sail) propulsion underwent successful testing in 7 May 2013 with the ESTCube-1, developed as part of the Estonian Student Satellite Program. During the ESTCube-1 flight, 10 meters of 20–50 micrometer thick E-Sail wire were deployed from the satellite to affect the attitude control.[37] To control the E-Sail element's interaction with both the plasma surrounding the Earth and the effect it has on the spacecraft's spinning speed, the students adapted two miniaturized electron emitters connected to the E-Sail element which it loads positively to 500 volts by shooting out electrons. The positive ions in the plasma push the E-Sail element and influence the satellite's rotation speed.

Diagram showing LightSail's orbital configuration

A total of thirty-three CubeSats were deployed from the ISS on February 11, 2014. Of those thirty-three, twenty-eight were part of the Flock-1 constellation of Earth-imaging CubeSats. Of the other five, two are from other US-based companies, two from Lithuania, and one from Peru.[38]

The LightSail-A is a 3U CubeSat prototype propelled by a solar sail. It was launched on 20 May 2015 from Florida. Its four sails are made of very thin Mylar and have a total area of 32 m2. This test will allow a full checkout of the satellite's systems in advance of the main 2016 mission.[39]

Future development[edit]

An ambitious project is the QB50, an international network of 50 CubeSats for multi-point, in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere (90–350 km) and re-entry research. QB50 is an initiative of the Von Karman Institute and is funded by the European Union. Double-unit (2-U) CubeSats (10×10×20 cm) are foreseen, with one unit (the 'functional' unit) providing the usual satellite functions and the other unit (the 'science' unit) accommodating a set of standardised sensors for lower thermosphere and re-entry research. 35 CubeSats are envisaged to be provided by universities in 19 European countries, 10 by universities in the US, 2 by universities in Canada, 3 by Japanese universities, 1 by an institute in Brazil, and others. Ten 2U or 3U CubeSats are foreseen to serve for in-orbit technology demonstration of new space technologies. All 50 CubeSats will be launched together on a single Cyclone-4 launch vehicle in February 2016.[40] The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the QB50 CubeSat was released on February 15, 2012.

Dedicated launchers[edit]

A Dnepr rocket launching from ISC Kosmotras

NASA has launched more than 30 CubeSats over the last several years, and as of 2015, it has a backlog of more than 50 awaiting launch.[41] No matter how inexpensive or versatile CubeSats may be, they must hitch rides as secondary payload on large rockets launching much larger spacecraft, at prices starting around $100,000.[41]

SpaceX[42][43] and Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS)[44][45] are two recent companies that offer commercial launch services for CubeSats as secondary payload, but a launch backlog still exists. Meanwhile, India's ISRO has been commercially launching foreign CubeSats since 2009 as secondary payloads.[46]

Very few companies and research institutes offer regular launch opportunities in clusters of several cubes. ISC Kosmotras and Eurokot are two companies that offer such services.[47]

On 5 May 2015, NASA announced a program based at the Kennedy Space Center dedicated to develop a new class of rockets designed specifically to launch very small satellites: the NASA Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS),[41][48][49] which will offer a payload mass of 30 kg to 60 kg for each launcher.[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CubeSat Design Specification Rev. 13" (PDF). California State Polytechnic University. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  2. ^ http://singularityhub.com/2013/06/23/tiny-cubesat-satellites-spur-revolution-in-space/
  3. ^ Messier, Douglas (22 May 2015). "Tiny 'Cubesats' Gaining Bigger Role in Space". Space.com. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  4. ^ a b c Helvajian2008, Henry; editors, Siegfried W. Janson, (2008). Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future. El Segundo, Calif.: Aerospace Press. ISBN 978-1-884989-22-3. 
  5. ^ "Cubist Movement". Space News. 2012-08-13. p. 30. When professors Jordi Puig-Suari of California Polytechnic State University and Bob Twiggs of Stanford University invented the CubeSat, they never imagined that the tiny satellites would be adopted by universities, companies and government agencies around the world. They simply wanted to design a spacecraft with capabilities similar to Sputnik that graduate student could design, build, test and operate. For size, the professors settled on a 10-centimeter cube because it was large enough to accommodate a basic communications payload, solar panels and a battery. 
  6. ^ a b Leonard David (2004). "CubeSats: Tiny Spacecraft, Huge Payoffs". Space.com. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  7. ^ Rob Goldsmith (October 6, 2009). "Satellite pioneer joins Morehead State's space science faculty". Space Fellowship. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference cnn was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ a b The official standard only defines up to 3U and 3U+ (a slightly larger but same-mass 3U). Larger sizes use have varying definitions depending on source. There is some confusion about 3U and 1U: the official standard claims a 3U masses at most 4 kg, while Spaceflight Services claims (see http://spaceflightservices.com/pricing-plans/ ) that 3U extends to 5 kg.
  10. ^ "Educational Payload on the Vega Maiden Flight – Call For CubeSat Proposals" (PDF). European Space Agency. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  11. ^ Matthew Richard Crook (2009). "NPS CubeSat Launcher Design, Process And Requirements" (PDF). Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Kakoyiannis, Constantine; Constantinou, Philip. Electrically Small Microstrip Antennas Targeting (PDF). Microstrip Antennas. Greece: National Technical University of Athens. 
  13. ^ Armstrong, James; Casey, Craig. "Pointing Control for Low Attitude Triple CubeSat Space Darts" (PDF). U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  14. ^ The ION CubeSat was destroyed in July 2006 as the Dnepr rocket failed 86 sec after launch.
  15. ^ "Illinois Tiny Satellite Innitiative". University of Illinois. 2006. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  16. ^ ION: Attitude Control System. University of Illinois Illinois Tiny Satellite Innitiative.
  17. ^ Louis D. Friedman (June 25, 2010). "LightSail-1 Passes Critical Design Review". The Planetary Society. 
  18. ^ Davis, Jason (10 July 2014). "LightSail update: Launch dates". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  19. ^ McNutt, Leslie; Castillo-Rogez, Julie (2014). "Near-Earth Asteroid Scout" (PDF). NASA. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  20. ^ "Mars missions on the cheap". The Space Review (USA). 5 May 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  21. ^ "ion Electrospray Propulsion System for CubeSats (iEPS)". Space Propulsion Laboratory. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  22. ^ "CubeSats: Power System and Budget Analysis". DIY Space Exploration. 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  23. ^ a b c Ochoa, Daniel (2014). "Deployable Helical Antenna for Nano-Satellite" (PDF). Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  24. ^ Chu, Jennifer (6 September 2015). "Inflatable antennae could give CubeSats greater reach". MIT News (USA). Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  25. ^ As noted in the linked article, Interorbital promised its Neptune 45 – intended to carry 10 CubeSats, among other cargo – would launch in 2011, but as of 2014 it had yet to do so.
  26. ^ "OSSI-1 Amateur Radio CubeSat launched". Southgate Amateur Radio News. 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  27. ^ "Spaceflight Services Pricing". Spaceflight Services. 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  28. ^ "Pumpkin Price List" (PDF). CubeSat Kit. 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  29. ^ "EUROCKOT Successfully Launches MOM – Rockot hits different Orbits". Eurockot Launch Services. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  30. ^ ESA (13 February 2012). "Seven Cubesats launched on Vega's maiden flight". European Space Agency. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  31. ^ Space.com (Sep 2012). "Air Force Launches Secret Spy Satellite NROL-36". Space.com. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  32. ^ NRO (June 2012). "NROL-36 Features Auxiliary Payloads" (PDF). National Reconnaissance Office. Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  33. ^ Kuniaki Shiraki (March 2, 2011). "「きぼう」からの小型衛星放出に係る技術検証について" [On Technical Verification of Releasing Small Satellites from "Kibo"] (PDF) (in Japanese). JAXA. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  34. ^ Mitsumasa Takahashi (June 15, 2011). "「きぼう」からの小型衛星放出実証ミッションに係る搭載小型衛星の選定結果について" (PDF). JAXA. Retrieved June 18, 2011. 
  35. ^ "「きぼう」日本実験棟からの小型衛星放出ミッション" (in Japanese). JAXA. October 5, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Antares Test Launch "A-ONE Mission" Overview Briefing" (PDF). Orbital Sciences. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "Proba-V’s fellow passenger" (PDF). European Space Agency. February 2013. p. 17. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  38. ^ Debra Werner (February 11, 2014). "Planet Labs CubeSats Deployed from ISS with Many More To Follow". SpaceNews, Inc. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  39. ^ Davis, Jason (January 26, 2015). "It's Official: LightSail Test Flight Scheduled for May 2015". The Planetary Society. 
  40. ^ "QB50". Von Karman Institute. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  41. ^ a b c Dean, James (16 May 2015). "NASA seeks launchers for smallest satellites". Florida Today. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  42. ^ Stephen Clark (2009). "Commercial launch of SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket a success". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  43. ^ "CubeSATs launched with SpaceX". Citizen Inventor. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  44. ^ "Spaceflight Partners with Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS) to Launch Eight CubeSats on the JAXA Astro-H Mission". Spaceflight. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  45. ^ "Brazilian AESP-14 CubeSat was deployed from Kibo". JAXA. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-22. AESP-14 takes an opportunity of Kibo's paid utilization and is deployed by Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS) at the request of Brazilian Space Agency. 
  46. ^ "ISRO launches CubeSats". Indian Space Research Organisation. 2009. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  47. ^ Jos Heyman (2009). "FOCUS: CubeSats — A Costing + Pricing Challenge". SatMagazine. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  48. ^ a b Wolfinger, Rob (5 May 2015). "NASA Solicitations: VENTURE CLASS LAUNCH SERVICE - VCLS, SOL NNK15542801R". NASA. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  49. ^ Diller, George H. (7 May 2015). "NASA Hosts Media Call on Draft Solicitation for New Class of Launch Services". NASA. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 

External links[edit]