This Week in CubeSats: Rocket, Science
14 October 2016
Welcome to This Week In CubeSats, your weekly bulletin of latest news from the wonderful world of CubeSats and nanosatellites. This week it's all about rockets and science, with a new CubeSat propulsion system in development and new scientific missions planned!
LANL CubeSat Propulsion System Concept. Credit: Inside Out Visuals
Propulsion has long been a lagging area of CubeSat technologies, as it is only in recent years with more complex mission profiles such as constellation phasing and exploration beyond LEO beginning to drive a requirement for this kind of capability. The Los Alamos National Laboratory has been looking at how to develop high-thrust engine whilst ensuring an appropriate level of safety assurance for other missions aboard the same launch. They recently tested their 6-motor concept, which uses a solid fuel rocket design that - crucially - separates the oxidiser from the fuel, ensuring a "completely non-detonable" design. The team at LANL hope that their design could soon be tested in space, opening up a solar system of possibilities for the next-generation of CubeSats.
More rockety news, Vector Space Systems are progressing development of their dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle and this week announced a move to new facilities and a recruitment drive of 200 jobs over the next three years, with a Dec 2017 launch date in sight for their first orbital test flight.
The MinXSS team at the Small Satellite Conference 2016
The University of Colorado, Boulder's 3U satellite MinXSS is a great example of the kind of valuable scienctific returns that a CubeSat mission can bring. This week NASA released a video showing some of the X-ray energy data gathered from MinXSS during a flare event, beside the imagery taken by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) of the same event. Before joining Clyde Space, one of our systems engineers worked on MinXSS during her time at university.
Continuing the week's sciencey news, this week we heard that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that its strategy for future research spacecraft heavily features small micro- and nanosatellites, thanks to the low cost access and rapid returns they can provide to research payloads.
Finally this week, we've released a new video talking about Clyde Space, some of our projects, and where we see CubeSats heading in future! Check it out on our Youtube channel below
Get in touch
Have some news about your CubeSat mission you'd like us to share, or some feedback about TWICS? Get in touch and let us know!
We'll be at the Reinventing Space Conference in London from 24-27th October and presenting a paper on how we've been scaling up our manufacturing capacity for the constellation age - come along and say hi!