National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS)



CubeSats to Fly with NOAA's JPSS-1

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tiny satellites known as CubeSats, which can be attached to a larger satellite mission and used for educational, research and development purposes, will accompany the JPSS-1 spacecraft inside the rocket fairing on board the Delta II rocket that will take JPSS-1 into space. 

An artist's rendition of JPSS-1

Did you know that there will be CubeSats launched alongside NOAA’s JPSS-1 later this year? The CubeSats are part of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program which is part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. 

So what are CubeSats? CubeSats are small satellites, approximately four inches per side, which can be attached to a larger mission and used for educational, research and development purposes. These tiny satellites will accompany the JPSS-1 spacecraft inside the rocket fairing on board the Delta II rocket that will take the satellite into space from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. 

This drawing shows where the cubesats will be stowed in the rocketELaNa missions are selected by a NASA review panel and awardees are tasked with the design, development and delivery of the CubeSats. The program provides universities and non-profit organizations with hands-on experience developing flight hardware and enables NASA to develop public-private partnerships while strengthening the Nation’s future STEM workforce. The JPSS-1 satellite will carry payloads for four universities whose mission objectives include STEM engagement, technology development and research into the effects of space radiation on semiconductor memory hardware. The CubeSats launching with JPSS-1 include: 

EagleSat – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona

MakerSat – Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, Idaho

MiRaTA – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

RadFxSat – Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

photo of cubesatDuring the launch sequence, the CubeSats will deploy after the primary payload separates from the rocket. The CubeSats will be released by Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (P-PODs), which are attached to the second stage of the Delta II rocket. The P-PODs will deploy the nanosatellites between 24 and 28 minutes after the separation of the JPSS-1 satellite. 

The primary payload of the upcoming launch, JPSS-1, will continue NOAA’s 40 year legacy of polar-orbiting satellite data. The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) provides meteorological data and environmental observations for mid-range and long-term monitoring and forecasting. NOAA and NASA support the education and development of the next generation of scientists through programs like the CubeSat Launch Initiative and other outreach activities.