August 3, 2012

A Spacecraft Within A Spacecraft: Cubesats

Have you ever heard of a CubeSat? CubeSats were developed about 10 years ago at California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) and Stanford to standardize getting university payloads into space. CubeSats are very small – as small as a 10cm-sided cube and 1 kg in mass (1U for short).

CubeSats have been great for developing emerging technologies and testing them in space, and giving the next generation of space explorers direct experience in designing and launching a spacecraft of their own. However, getting them launched has always been a challenge, and often comes with a hefty price tag or a sometimes long and complicated process.

We are VERY excited to announce that each of our Arkyd 100 spacecraft, currently in development, will have the capability to host and deploy a CubeSat payload from within the spacecraft’s bus. We believe that the CubeSat community is the heart of the aerospace industry’s innovative spirit and a fertile test bed for the innovators of tomorrow and future asteroid miners.

Planetary Resources is proud to support this community by providing a 1U Cubesat spot to the public – free of charge – through its Arkyd CubeSat Challenge. And, best of all, our online community – YOU – will help to select the winner!

In the picture below, you can see a “1U” CubeSat being released from an Arkyd 100.

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing additional information regarding the Challenge’s structure, requirements, and timeframe. Stay tuned here for more details. We are just at the start of an incredible adventure to open up the vast resources of space to humanity. We are proud to be able to bring everyone along with us on our journey.

And as a note, the public use ARKYD-100 space telescope we’ve been talking about building with your help via Kickstarter will also have the ability to launch a CubeSat. We may create a special pledge level for it or let the public decide who gets that CubeSat spot if the Kickstarter project is successful.

So – what experiment would you put on a CubeSat to help with asteroid mining technology? How should we all decide who gets their CubeSat on the Arkyd-100? We’d love to hear your thoughts below. Know an engineering student? Be sure to let them know about this opportunity!