February 6, 2015 – NASA has selected Colorado State University’s TEMPEST-D cubesat as one of 14 small satellites from 12 states to fly as auxiliary payloads aboard rockets planned to launch in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The proposed CubeSats come from universities across the country, non-profit organizations and NASA field centers.
CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites measure about four inches on each side, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds each.
CSU in Fort Collins will have the opportunity to launch the Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems – Demonstrator (TEMPEST-D), providing risk mitigation for the TEMPEST mission that will provide the first temporal observations of cloud and precipitation processes on a global scale. These observations are important to understand the linkages in and between Earth’s water and energy balance, as well as to improve our understanding of cloud model microphysical processes that are vital to climate change prediction.
The selections are part of the sixth round of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. After launch, the satellites will conduct technology demonstration, educational research or science missions. The selected spacecraft are eligible for placement on a launch manifest after final negotiations, depending on the availability of a flight opportunity.
As part of the White House Maker Initiative, NASA is seeking to leverage the growing community of space-enthusiasts to create a nation that contributes to NASA’s space exploration goals. In the first step to broaden this successful initiative to launch 50 small satellites from all 50 states in the next five years, the agency has made a selection from West Virginia, one of the 21 “rookie states” that have not previously been selected by the CubeSat Launch Initiative.
In the previous five rounds of the CubeSat Launch Initiative, 114 CubeSats from 29 states were selected. To date, 36 CubeSats have launched through the initiative as part of the agency’s Launch Services Program’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) Program. This year, four separate ELaNa missions will carry seven CubeSats.