Bold flight to the extremes…

NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative recently selected a space mission supported by the The Michigan Exploration Laboratory at the University of Michigan in partnership with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This mission, the Interplanetary NanoSpacecraft Pathfinder In Relevant Environment (INSPIRE), will pave the way into deep space for CubeSat-class missions and open up additional opportunities for heliophysics and planetary science to the CubeSat community.   INSPIRE will demonstrate survivability, communication, tracking, and payload hosting with two 3U CubeSats launched into interplanetary space. Several launch opportunities have been identified, but details are not known.  The project is lead by a University of Michigan alum, Dr. Andrew T. Klesh, who is currently at JPL.

Twin INSPIRE spacecraft headed to deep space
An artist’s rendition of the twin INSPIRE spacecraft headed to deep space.

The University of Michigan effort will be led by the Michigan Exploration Laboratory (MXL) and Dr. James W. Cutler.  MXL will develop the power regulation and storage systems, and solar panels.    Flight computers leveraging MXL heritage on the RAX spacecraft may also be incorporated into INSPIRE.  Also, the Peach Mountain Radio Observatory will be used to provide tracking and communication capability with the 26 meter dish.

This is the fifth mission developed at MXL to be selected by the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative.