CubeSats can be part of a historic mission—Artemis 2—when NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will send astronauts on their first flight aboard the Orion spacecraft farther into the solar system than humanity has ever traveled before. Artemis 2, will mark a significant step forward in NASA’s plans to return humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and future missions to worlds beyond, including Mars, and the small satellites traveling along for the mission will help inform the next steps of exploration.
NASA is seeking proposals from U.S. small satellite developers to fly their CubeSat missions as secondary payloads aboard the SLS on the Artemis 2 mission under the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). CSLI provides CubeSat developers a low-cost pathway to conduct research in space that advances NASA's strategic goals in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education and operations. The initiative allows students, teachers and faculty to gain hands-on experience designing, building, and operating these small research satellites.
“CubeSats continue to play an increasingly larger role in NASA’s exploration plans,” said John Guidi, deputy director for the Advanced Exploration Systems division. “These miniature satellites provide a low-cost platform for a variety of technology demonstrations that may offer solutions for some of the challenges facing long-term human exploration of the Moon and Mars, such as cutting-edge laser communications, energy storage, in-space propulsion, and autonomous movement.”
Proposals must include elements designed to extend human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and reduce risk for future deep space human exploration missions. The proposed missions should address at least one aspect of NASA’s goals outlined in NASA’s 2018 Strategic Plan and address identified strategic knowledge gaps related to the Moon or Mars.
This opportunity will be open to U.S. participants including large and small businesses and other federal agencies, as well as NASA centers, not-for-profit organizations or accredited education organizations.
NASA is also seeking proposals from CubeSat developers for ride-share launch opportunities on missions other than Artemis 2. These opportunities are open to NASA centers, not-for-profit organizations or accredited education organizations and will be for flight as secondary payloads on launches other than SLS, as well as deployments from the International Space Station.
Mission proposals for all opportunities must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 4, 2019. Selections will be made by mid-February 2020, however selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity.
To date, the CubeSat Launch Initiative has selected 175 CubeSat missions from 39 states and 97 unique organizations across the country, has launched 88 missions into space, and has 37 scheduled missions to launch within the next 12 months.