What is a CubeSat?

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Sep 8, 2022

CubeSat is a square-based nanosatellite that weighs roughly around 1 Kg and is launched into space at an altitude of around 350 miles (550 km) above the Earth’s Surface. It can be built inexpensively and launched into the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO), which can be used for applications such as remote sensing and communications. CubeSat is launched into space by hitchhiking in the rockets which is used to transfer larger satellites above the earth's surface. It can also be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) where the CubeSat was transported from the Earth as a form of a payload.

Type Of Mission

Examples

Technological Demonstration

A CubeSat can be used to check and verify the performance of a new thermal imaging camera by using different settings to evaluate the quality of the images captured

Scientific Educational Projects

A CubeSat can be used by Students to track wild animals by the radio signals that can be emitted from the collars that are attached to them

Commercial Purposes

A Company Owning CubeSat equipment can sell high-res images of Earths to clients that deal in agriculture & city planning

A major drawback of CubeSat is its lifecycle or mission duration. The probability of a CubeSat failing at launch from the rocket or the ISS is much higher when compared to traditional satellites. CubeSat has a very nominal amount of propulsion, which means that after subjecting it to an orbit, it cannot be controlled. Additionally, a CubeSat cannot be operational at higher altitudes above the earth i.e. Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Geostationary orbit (GEO), and highly elliptical orbit (HEO).

Click here to learn more about Lower Earth Orbit (LEO).

Click here to learn more about Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

Space Missions - A list of all Space Missions

esa

Name Date
Altius 01 May, 2025
Arctic Weather Satellite (AWS) 01 Mar, 2024
Eutelsat Quantum 30 Jul, 2021
Sentinel 6 21 Nov, 2020
Cheops 18 Dec, 2019
EDRS 06 Aug, 2019
BepiColombo 20 Oct, 2018
Aeolus 22 Aug, 2018
Sentinel 3B 25 Apr, 2018
Sentinel 5 13 Oct, 2017

isro

Name Date
INSAT-3DS 17 Feb, 2024
XPoSat 01 Jan, 2024
Aditya-L1 02 Sep, 2023
DS-SAR 30 Jul, 2023
Chandrayaan-3 14 Jul, 2023
NVS-01 29 May, 2023
TeLEOS-2 22 Apr, 2023
OneWeb India-2 26 Mar, 2023
EOS-07 10 Feb, 2023
EOS-06 26 Nov, 2022

jaxa

Name Date
XRISM 07 Sep, 2023
SLIM 07 Sep, 2023
ALOS-3 07 Mar, 2023
ISTD-3 07 Oct, 2022
HTV9 21 May, 2020
HTV8 25 Sep, 2019
HTV7 23 Sep, 2018
HTV6 09 Dec, 2016
HTV5 19 Aug, 2015
HTV4 04 Aug, 2013

nasa

Name Date
NEO Surveyor 01 Jun, 2028
Libera 01 Dec, 2027
Europa Clipper 10 Oct, 2024
SpaceX CRS-29 09 Nov, 2023
Psyche 13 Oct, 2023
DSOC 13 Oct, 2023
Psyche Asteroid 05 Oct, 2023
Expedition 70 27 Sep, 2023
SpaceX Crew-7 25 Aug, 2023
STARLING 18 Jul, 2023