CubeSats and Education
CubeSats are nanosatellites of standardised dimensions, composed of one or more units that are 10x10x10cm in size and that have a mass of up to 1.33kg. To date, the vast majority of CubeSat activities belong to the category of radio amateur or university projects. Smaller in size and faster to develop than bigger classes of satellites, CubeSats offer students a true hands-on experience in designing, developing, testing, and operating a real spacecraft system and its ground segment. Lately, CubeSats have also started to show an increasing potential for commercial use, and are recognised as one of the current top trends in space activities (ASD-Eurospace, Space Trends 2014: Global Space Activity Overview. 3rdEdition, June 2014, p. 15).
Aware of their strong educational value, ESA’s Education Office has undertaken several initiatives in the CubeSat domain, all involving teams of university students. They range from the launch of seven student-built CubeSats, the support offered to the HumSat-D satellite in the environmental test campaign, the launch of AAUSAT5 and its deployment to orbit from the ISS, to the launch of 3 CubeSats onboard Soyuz VS14 as part of the Fly Your Satellite! programme, ESA’s most thorough educational initiative to date in support of student CubeSat missions.