NASA Announces the 4 Million Kilometer Cube Quest Challenge

Though they may have been considered something of a novelty when cubesats first entered the space industry, today it may be difficult to overstate the potential of these diminutive spacecraft to change the way in which we explore, learn and conduct commerce in the final frontier.

While cubesats are finding an initial niche in low Earth orbit, where limited propulsion, guidance and communications capacity are not such a major concern, there is no doubt that as these barriers are overcome, cubesats will be headed out into deeper space in increasing numbers.

Seeking to advance the state of the art, NASA recently announced the Cube Quest Challenge.

The challenge will be conducted in three segments, beginning with a ground based round, followed by two in-space segments. The launch vehicle is slated to be the Space Launch System, although contestants can elect to use a third party vehicle if desired.

From the announcement:

“Ground Tournaments: $500,000 in the four qualifying ground tournaments to determine who will have the ability to fly on the first SLS flight;

Lunar Derby: $3 million for demonstrating the ability to place a CubeSat in a stable lunar orbit and demonstrate communication and durability near the moon; and

Deep Space Derby: $1.5 million for demonstrating communication and CubeSat durability at a distance greater than almost 2.5 million miles (4,000,000 km), 10 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.”

The complete rules are here.


Posted in: NASA

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