It is with great excitement that we announce the CubeSat Challenge is officially open for submission!
Wait. Hold on. What’s a Cubesat?
Great question -- it's hard to innovate on something you've never had explained. To get right down to it, CubeSats are miniature satellites commonly used in low-Earth orbit. A common application is for educational purposes, and more recently for remote sensing, scientific experimentation, and communications as well. As the technology grows in popularity and feasibility, CubeSats are also being considered for flights outside of Earth orbit — to such exotic locations as the Moon, Mars, or Jupiter. You can read more about CubeSats here.
A favorable feature of CubeSats is that these small satellites cost significantly less to build, launch, and operate than traditional satellites. Lower cost allows for more rapid integration and iteration of new technology, as well as a greater freedom for experimentation with new concepts than was historically possible with standard satellites. For this very reason, they make for the perfect subject of a crowdsourcing project!
Neat! What can I do with them on HeroX?
Another excellent question.
First, a little background on the sponsor: the CubeSat Challenge is sponsored by a department of the US Military known as United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM.) USSOCOM is the Unified Combatant Command charged with manning, training, and equipping the various Special Operations Component Commands of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force of the United States Armed Forces.
USSOCOM is unique in that it has service-like acquisition capabilities, and relies on private industry to develop specialized equipment and technology to meet mission requirements. With the CubeSat Challenge, USSOCOM is seeking ideas from all across the civilian world on how to advance CubeSat capabilities.
Specifically, they're looking to solicit concepts that advance the state of current CubeSat technologies and payloads and demonstrate applications that may benefit any of the USSOCOM missions. Concepts should be viable for a prototype demonstration within 12-24 months. These concepts will advance how CubeSats can be utilized to support Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions.
Sound exciting? Naturally - CubeSats have major science-fiction-turned-reality potential. It's strongly recommended that you take a look at the Challenge Page and see what it takes to get involved! There isn't a lot of time in this particular competition - it closes on October 19th -- so don't hesitate. Get thyself to the guidelines and start reading!