As CubeSat technology evolves beyond space missions in low Earth orbit (LEO), Aerospace is leading the development of the next generation of cutting-edge CubeSats capable of performing missions in higher orbits.
Aerospace has been a leader in exploring space missions in low Earth orbit (LEO) with CubeSats for over 20 years. The original CubeSats have demonstrated a unique capability in LEO to provide a rapid and affordable platform to explore new technologies and mission applications. Now, as CubeSat technology has evolved, Aerospace is exploring what kind of missions the next generation of CubeSats can conduct in higher orbits, such as Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). These missions include space situational awareness, satellite inspectors for servicing missions, and formation flying for distributed aperture telescopes for astronomy and heliophysics.
Aerospace is currently in the preliminary design phase of these new, higher-orbit CubeSats and hopes to accelerate the development of a flight design in the next year of the first generation GEO CubeSat, AeroCube Galaxy. Some of the challenges Aerospace faces with AeroCube Galaxy is that LEO is only about 300 miles from Earth whereas GEO is over 22,000 miles from the Earth’s surface, making communication much harder due to the vast distance. The radiation environment is also more stringent in GEO, causing more problems for the electronics. Another challenge for CubeSats operating in GEO is that since most of the world’s communication satellites are located there, the CubeSats must be careful to not disintegrate into space debris that will interfere with other satellites.
As one of the original innovators of the CubeSat platform, Aerospace is excited to continue its legacy by exploring the next frontier of space for CubeSats and overcoming the challenges that lie ahead in trying to achieve this ambitious goal.