The CubeSat Ecosystem: Examining the Launch Niche (Paper and Presentation)

December, 2015
IDA document: D-5678
FFRDC: Science and Technology Policy Institute
Type: Documents , Space
Nightingale, Emily S.; Pratt, Lucas M.; Balakrishnan, Asha See more authors
This paper and accompanying presentation were prepared for the 66th International Astronautical Congress, held in Jerusalem, Israel, October 12–16, 2015. In the last decade, CubeSats have rapidly increased in popularity as a platform for low-cost activity in space by industry, government, academia, and the military. This paper discusses the current supporting ecosystem for CubeSat development in the United States, from funding opportunities to ground-station services. It also discusses the opportunities and barriers facing the ecosystem as a whole, with a particular focus on the launch niche, which is a potential choke point for the entire ecosystem. NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative is examined as a case study to better understand the CubeSat launch hardware qualification and integration processes.