Launch date set for NASA’s CubeSat mission aboard Astra Space’s 3.3 rocket – Parabolic Arc

Rocket 3 takes off from Kodiak Island. (Credit: Astra Space webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) – NASA’s first mission under the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) Demonstration Contract 2 is scheduled to launch four CubeSats into space no earlier than February 5, 2022. The CubeSats, which make up the agency’s 41st Educational Nanosatellite Launch (ELaNa) mission will be the first VCLS launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and the first operational satellite launch of Astra Space Inc aboard its 3.3 rocket.

“As the first VCLS mission to lift off from the Florida Space Coast, this launch opens up new opportunities for CubeSat developers and small-class launch vehicle vendors,” said Hamilton Fernandez, Mission Manager supporting the program. launch services. “Through our commercial partners, NASA offers dedicated routes to space for CubeSats, which helps achieve the agency’s goals of carrying smaller payloads and science missions into orbit.”

Three universities and a NASA center have developed CubeSats, which are a type of small satellite. They are:

  • BAMA-1– University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

BAMA-1 is a technology demonstration mission that will perform an in-flight demonstration of a drag sail module by rapidly de-orbiting the satellite. Spacecraft equipped with trailing sail technology will be able to deorbit reliably and quickly, reducing space debris and risk to operational satellites, space stations, and manned vehicles.

  • INCA – New Mexico State University, Las Cruces

INCA (Ionospheric Neutron Content Analyzer) is a scientific investigation mission that will for the first time investigate the latitude and time dependencies of the neutron spectrum in low Earth orbit in order to improve current space weather models and mitigate the threats to space and airborne assets. The measurements will come from a new directional neutron spectrometer, which is being developed in collaboration with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of New Hampshire.

  • QubeSat – University of California, Berkeley

QubeSat is a technology demonstration mission. He will test and characterize the effects of space conditions on quantum gyroscopes using nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond. Nitrogen vacancy centers are nitrogen defect points in diamond with quantum properties that allow scientists to form gyroscopes that measure angular velocity. Technologies based on nitrogen vacancy centers are particularly well suited to space due to their high accuracy, small form factor, and radiation tolerance.

R5-S1 is intended to demonstrate a fast and cost-effective way to build successful CubeSats in addition to demonstrating some technologies that are important for inspection in space, which could help make crewed space exploration safer and more efficient. R5-S1 could prove a cheaper way to demonstrate crucial technologies such as high-performance computers, cameras, algorithms and a new way for satellites to transmit images to the ground.

The CubeSats for the ELaNa 41 mission were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and assigned to the mission by NASA’s Kennedy-based Launch Services Program. CSLI provides launch opportunities for small satellite payloads built by universities, high schools, NASA centers and non-profit organizations.

To date, NASA has selected more than 200 CubeSat missions, more than 100 of which have launched into space, with more than 30 missions scheduled for launch within the next 12 months. The selected CubeSats represent participants from 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 102 unique organizations.

Stay connected with these CubeSat missions on social media by following NASA’s Launch Services Program on Facebook and Twitter.

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