UL Engineering’s Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment (CAPE) project has been selected by NASA as provider of one of 20 small satellites which will fly as auxiliary cargo aboard rockets planned to launch in 2011 and 2012.

The satellites are expected to conduct technology demonstrations, educational research or science missions. The selected CubeSats will be eligible for flight after final negotiations when an opportunity arises for their inclusion in a scheduled launch.

NASA made the first open announcement to create an agency-prioritized list of available CubeSats in April of 2010. From the original announcement, a total of 12 CubeSat payloads were down-selected for launch opportunities. At the time of the original announcement, Jason Crusan, chief technologist for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate said, "We're anticipating some exciting proposals for this pilot program with hopes to break down the barriers to the launching of CubeSats. There are organizations that have been waiting a long time for a chance to see their satellites fly in space." The first CubeSats to be carried on an expendable vehicle for the agency's Launch Services Program will comprise NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNa, mission. ELaNa will fly on the Glory mission which is currently scheduled to lift off on March 4, 2011.

UL submitted a proposal in November of 2010 in response to the announcement by NASA of a second initiative to launch small cube-shaped satellites. Proposers were required to be educational institutions and to contribute to NASA strategic goals and outcomes. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called picosatellites or nanosatellites which are minute, having a size of approximately four inches, a volume of about one quart, and weighing no more than 2.2 pounds.

The selections from the second round of the CubeSat Launch Initiative proposals include CubeSats from the following organizations, which include the first high school proposal selected for a CubeSat flight:

  • Air Force Research Lab, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
  • Drexel University, Philadelphia
  • NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (two CubeSats)
  • NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (two CubeSats)
  • Naval Research Lab, Washington (two CubeSats)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Morehead State University, Morehead, Ky.
  • The Planetary Society, Pasadena, in partnership with NASA's Ames
  • Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
  • Space and Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala.
  • St. Louis University, St. Louis, Miss.
  • Thomas Jefferson High School, Alexandria, Va.
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of Louisiana
  • University of New Mexico
  • U.S. Military Academy
  • U.S. Naval Academy

Before its inclusion in NASA’s CubeSat program, the UL Engineering CAPE team had already launched one picosatellite and has been hard at work on constructing a second CubeSat. For more information on the Cajun Picosatellite Experiment visit their website.

For information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative program, click here.


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