Completes 10,000th Orbit
March 9, 2009
Boeing's demonstration picosatellite
CubeSat TestBed 1 (CSTB1) today surpassed 10,000 Earth orbits since its
launch on April 17, 2007.
composite image taken by the demonstration picosatellite CubeSat Test
Bed 1 is made up of eight photos taken over Korea and Japan. The
spacecraft is smaller than a standard toaster and its camera's lens is
the size of a pencil's eraser.
After completing its original mission goals of operating for six months
in space and supporting three months of tests, the spacecraft, which is
smaller than a standard toaster, continues to operate and provide
engineers with data that is increasing the industry's knowledge and
validation of various miniature satellite designs, technologies and
Boeing Advanced Network and Space Systems, developer of CSTB1, is
exploring new ways to reduce the size, weight and power of satellite
technologies needed for operational NanoSats -- spacecraft weighing less
than 22 pounds (10 kg). Picosatellites such as CSTB1 weigh less than 2.2
pounds (1 kg).
"The breakthroughs we've made with CSTB1 are enabling us to advance the
development of NanoSat capabilities," said Scott MacGillivray, program
manager for Boeing Nano-Satellite Programs and CSTB1. "We've downloaded
more than 1 million data points to date, including dozens of photographs
by CSTB1's small camera with a lens the size of a pencil's eraser head,
and we continue to receive data on the extended-life characteristics of
"Our success in demonstrating this new capability shows how NanoSats can
perform valuable tasks to support Operationally Responsive Space needs,"
said Alex Lopez, vice president, Boeing Advanced Network and Space
Systems. "As interest in NanoSats continues to grow, our accomplishments
position us well to offer customers an affordable, viable option for
specific satellite missions."
Weighing a little less than two pounds (approximately 900 grams), CSTB1
consists of four microcontrollers as the brains, redundant communication
systems with two independent radios, two high-capacity lithium-ion
rechargeable batteries, a deployable antenna, a sophisticated control
system that determines the attitude of the spacecraft using sun and
magnetic-field sensors, a simple attitude control system that uses
magnetic torque coils, and multifunctional boards containing sensors and
NanoSats could potentially perform functions similar to larger
satellites, while requiring significantly less time and cost to produce.
Their low cost allows for more innovative approaches to be used due to
the higher tolerance for risk.
The tiny spacecraft are quickly deployable to launch sites and remote
areas and can be integrated into a launch vehicle without dedicated
manifesting -- they can "piggyback" on a rocket carrying other payloads.
the on-orbit success of CSTB1, large spacecraft developers, both
government and commercial, today have a low-cost, quick-response
capability for testing small components and subsystems in space early on
in the development phase.
Boeing's next CubeSat demonstration mission, CSTB3, will be the first of
a family of spacecraft designs representative of Boeing's new Tensor
small-spacecraft avionics architecture, which will be the core of a wide
array of missions.
CSTB3 is larger (approximately 4 kg and 10x10x30 cm) than CSTB1 and will
demonstrate larger spacecraft capabilities such as higher communications
bandwidth, three-axis control, onboard autonomy, and advanced dynamic
power management. CSTB3 is expected to be flight-ready this summer.