RAX Profiled by The Space Review

RAX-2 was recently featured on the blog “The Space Review,” which covers recent developments in the SmallSat community.  The article discussed numerous CubeSat missions that presented at the SmallSat conference at Utah State University this past August.

According to the article: “CubeSats are already providing good scientific data for researchers. The University of Michigan’s Radio Aurora Explorer 2 (RAX-2) spacecraft, a 3U CubeSat launched last October as a secondary payload on a Delta II, is helping space scientists understand the development of plasma instabilities in the ionosphere that can disrupt radio communications. ‘It’s provided the highest resolution mapping of ionospheric irregularities ever,’ said John Springmann of Michigan in a presentation on RAX. Initial results from the RAX-2 satellite were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters this summer. That project is one of several supported in part by grants from a National Science Foundation program for funding CubeSat missions to carry atmospheric and space science research.”

The low cost of CubeSats, which allow them to be produced in greater quantity than their larger spacecraft cousins, is opening up potential new applications as well. These advances in technology make it possible to equip CubeSats with increasingly capable payloads, as well as open up the option of networking the tiny satellites for compounded capabilities. “For us, labor is actually the driving cost for secondary payloads,” said SpaceX’s Dustin Doud, a Michigan Aerospace alumnus and mentor to the RAX program. “The more easily you are integrated, the better chance you have of being manifested.”

The author went on to discuss upcoming advances in CubeSats, namely using them in clusters or formations in order to carry out objectives that one spacecraft would be incapable of completing. NASA’s Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission will deploy 10 1.5-U CubeSats to test technologies that could be used by future swarms of such spacecraft.  Additionally, he discusses how the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program provides launches for university-built CubeSats.

You can read the full article, “CubeSats Get Big,” here.