AEROCUBE-4 (AC-4) PHOTOS FROM SPACE A rare night time image of the Persian Gulf taken from space on December 1, 2013 by AC-4. This CubeSat contains three cameras equipped respectively with wide angle, medium, and narrow-focus lenses. The photo pictured illustrates the use of the wide-angle fisheye lens, with a 185-degree field of view, to capture the horizon in all directions and when nadir pointing

Small Satellites

Leading the Development of Small Spacecraft Technology

The NASA-supported Optical Communication and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD), to be launched in September 2015, will demonstrate laser downlinks from LEO to ground at up to 200 Mb/s, an improvement by a factor of 10 to 100 over existing CubeSat-scale communication systems.

The NASA-supported Optical Communication and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD), to be launched in September 2015.

Small satellites have recorded data on the terrestrial and space environment near the moon and Earth, helped in the search for planets in other star systems, and demonstrated various telecommunications systems that are enjoyed today. These satellites have served as testbeds for the development of new space technologies, and as hands-on educational tools for countless students, scientists, and engineers.

The Microsatellite Systems Department (MSD) leads our pico- and nanosatellite efforts from mission design through satellite fabrication, launch, and on-orbit operation. Our staff of experts at MSD has been nationally recognized for setting the standard for reliability and technology development within the CubeSat community.

Our small satellites serve as low-mass platforms that can be sent into orbit for well under a few million dollars, allowing nonspacefaring nations, corporations, educational institutions, and even individuals low-cost access to space. A pico- or nanosatellite can be easily developed and launched as a secondary payload on a wide range of launch vehicles.

The proliferation of these small satellites is increasing our understanding of the near-Earth environment and providing a nearly realtime assessment of that changing environment. Small satellites also allow an efficient and economical means to identify regions of interest before sending larger space systems with more instrumentation.