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The SkyCube cubesat, corner view, undeployed.jpg
SkyCube in undeployed state
Mission typeEarth imaging
OperatorSouthern Stars
SATCAT no.39569Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration90 days planned
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type1U CubeSat
Launch mass1.3 kilograms (2.9 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date9 January 2014, 18:07:05 (2014-01-09UTC18:07:05Z) UTC
RocketAntares 120
Launch siteMARS LP-0A
ContractorOrbital Sciences
Deployed fromInternational Space Station
End of mission
Last contact27 March 2014 (2014-03-28)
Decay date8 November 2014
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude408 km (254 mi)[1]
Apogee altitude414 km (257 mi)[1]
Inclination51.65 degrees[1]
Period92.79 minutes[1]
Epoch1 March 2014[1]

SkyCube was an American crowdsourced CubeSat. It was first announced on Kickstarter on 14 July 2012 and successfully funded on 12 September 2012, meeting its US$82,500 goal with a total of $116,890. It was developed and built in 2012–2013, completed flight integration at NanoRacks in late 2013,[2] and finally launched aboard the Cygnus CRS Orb-1 flight[3] at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia on January 9, 2014. SkyCube was deployed from the International Space Station on February 28, 2014. Contact with the satellite was last made on March 27, 2014. SkyCube re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on November 9, 2014.[4] It is one of several crowdfunded satellites launched during the 2010s.[5]


SkyCube had three major mission components: the broadcast of messages from its radio, the capture of pictures from space via its three cameras, and the deployment of a large balloon.


The SkyCube radio emitted periodic beaconing pings which contained 120-byte messages from the Kickstarter backers. These pings were transmitted at 915 MHz, using the AX.25 protocol at 9600 baud with BPSK modulation, with a callsign of WG9XMF.[6]


Using its three cameras, SkyCube took pictures of the Earth from orbit. The cameras were VGA resolution and had lenses with three different fields of view (120°, 35°, and 6°), giving a variety of imaging possibilities. The images were transmitted back to Earth at 57.6 kbit/s. Kickstarter backers chose when the pictures were taken. NOAA granted a 90-day imaging license to SkyCube on 1 February 2013.[7]


SkyCube deployed a large (2 metres (6.6 ft)) balloon at the end of its mission. The balloon was coated with reflective titanium dioxide and made it visible from the ground. The balloon increased the atmospheric drag on SkyCube, and within two weeks the orbit decayed enough for SkyCube to enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up safely. The inflation was triggered via 4-gram CO2 canister.

Technical specifications[edit]

Dimensions 100 × 100 × 113 mm CubeSat standard
Interface specification ISIPOD 1.4I
Mass 1.3 kilograms (2.9 lb)
Expected lifetime 60 – 90 days
Attitude control system Passive magnotorquers
Power 9 total panels: one roof panel and 8 deployable panels. Each panel consists of 24 Spectrolab triangular cells wired in series-parallel for a nominal 12 volts.
Batteries 2x Li-ion 18650 cells, 8.4V 2300 mAh, Molicell ICR18650J.
Power bus 3.3V, 5V regulated. Constant-current driver for solar panel deployment (Nichrome burn wires).
Primary downlink 915 MHz, AX.25 protocol, BPSK modulation, 57.6 kbit/s
Telemetry/messaging downlink 915 MHz, AX.25 protocol, BPSK modulation, 9.6 kbit/s
Command uplink 450 MHz, AX.25 protocol, FSK modulation, 9.6 kbit/s


SkyCube relies on several partners to provide necessary services:

Organization Function
Naval Postgraduate School Ground station services in North America and Hawaii[8]
Saber Astronautics Ground station and Mission Control services in Australia[9]
Orbital Sciences Launch provider
NanoRacks Integrator[2]
Astronautical Development, LLC Radios and structural components

In the media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "NanoRacks Completes Flight Integration of CubeSats Bound on Orb1 to the ISS".
  3. ^ "New Science Bound for Station on Orbital's Cygnus".
  4. ^ "SkyCube Satellite Technology".[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Reyes, Matthew (7 April 2014). "DIY Satellites: Now and Near Future | Make:". Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  6. ^ "FCC Experimental License for SkyCube".
  7. ^ "SkyCube Private Remote Sensing License: Public Summary" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Mobile CubeSat Command & Control (MC3) Ground Stations" (PDF).
  9. ^ "29 October 2013: Space Operations Deal Signed with Southern Stars". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  10. ^ "SJ startup to launch crowdfunded satellite into space". External links ==