Small satellites becoming big deal for CU-Boulder students

Image of a CubeSat in Space

Image of a CubeSat in Space

NASA recently selected CU-Boulder as one of 24 institutions or organizations to fly tiny satellites as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned for launch in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The selections are part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, an effort that began in 2010 and involves students at institutions like CU-Boulder developing and flying CubeSat satellites, which are about the size of a loaf of bread, have a volume of about a quart and generally weigh less than 3 pounds.

From 2010 to 2013 CU-Boulder was awarded five launch opportunities for CubeSats by NASA, the most of any university in the nation. Each launch is worth the equivalent of roughly $300,000, the going rate for commercial space payloads of that size and weight, said aerospace engineering Professor Scott Palo, whose team was selected by NASA in 2013 to design and build a flight-ready CubeSat satellite.

The CU CubeSat, known as the High Latitude Ionospheric Thermospheric Experiment, or HiLITE, is a collaboration between the aerospace department and two small Boulder-based companies, Blue Canyon Technologies and ASTRA, which are supported in part by the U.S. Air Force to help develop CubeSat hardware, said Palo

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