Announcement of Opportunity: CubeSat Mission Concept Studies

Artists impression of UKube-1 in orbit

Artists impression of UKube-1 in orbit

The UK Space Agency is inviting proposals to develop CubeSat preparatory studies for future mission concepts e.g. UKube-2.

The core of the UK Space Agency strategy is to lead and sustain the growth of the UK Space Sector. In support of this the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP) promotes the development of new commercial and scientific applications by offering grant funding for truly novel concepts to be fully explored.

CubeSats offer huge potential to accelerate technology development of sensors and instruments in a package for deployment in space. New technology concepts for space missions can be demonstrated on CubeSat payloads, delivering a test bed at low cost and significantly reduced timescales. The CubeSat is a relatively new concept, which is maturing rapidly, in which the UK has existing leading capability.

This NSTP programme is to facilitate the acceleration of space technologies up the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) curve but can also attract new players into the space sector by offering a low cost route to getting flight heritage. To follow, the NSTP Pathfinder studies programme is to be released in early 2012 and will be specifically to develop technology concepts.

The UK Space Agency is currently funding a pilot programme, called Ukube1, to demonstrate the capabilities of a CubeSats with a launch towards the end of 2012. If successful, this pilot project could pave the way for a national programme starting in the third quarter of 2012, offering launch opportunities every 12-18 months. The aims of a national programme will also encompass the delivery of educational opportunities and science applications as well as testing new technologies.

Proposals are invited to develop CubeSat preparatory studies for future mission concepts e.g. UKube-2. The concept can address a scientific theme or be of an in-orbit technology demonstration nature (e.g. formation flying), providing a real impact to the UK. All UK based communities (academic, industrial and other) are invited to submit proposals. Applications can be made individually or in partnership with other organisations, however industry and academia will be funded under the rules stipulated in the scope of funding presented below.

Funding is available up to £35K per proposal; the size of award will depend on the requirements of the proposed project and the applicants’ case for support. Proposals should not exceed a grant value of £35K. Funding will be awarded in 2012 and the project cannot exceed 3 months duration. Due to the short nature of these studies and the amount of funding available, we intend funding successful applicants at the onset of the project. It is anticipated the scheme will fund a minimum of 7 proposals; the facility to fund more will depend on the size of awards and will be assessed on a competitive basis as detailed below.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 1st February 2012, 12pm.

Further information at
http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/bispartners/ukspaceagency/docs/space%20science/cubesats/cubesat-ao-dec-11.pdf 

UK launches National Space Academy http://www.uk.amsat.org/2011/12/16/uk-launches-national-space-academy/

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