CU Aerospace & Univ. of Illinois


NASA SBIR funding has built the essential hardware for a CubeSat-based 20 m2 solar sail orbit raising demonstration mission called “CubeSail,” built by the team of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and CU Aerospace (CUA). In February 2012, CubeSail was selected as one of 33 NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative opportunities from NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and was prioritized as the 5th launch.

During the Phase II effort that ended in late 2011 the UIUC-CUA team fabricated dual 1.5U CubeSats, performed vacuum and dynamic testing of the separation release unit, simulated the spacecraft deployment to full film length, and analyzed spacecraft dynamics and environmental effects.

The primary goal of this experiment is to reduce risk for the future CubeSail launch hardware by directly studying the initial deployment dynamics in a true free-floating microgravity environment. CubeSail is a new, first-time-flown experiment aboard the Zero-G 727.

Julia Laystrom-Woodard, Senior Engineer at CU Aerospace, prepares CubeSail for TRR

Ms. Laystrom-Woodard releases CubeSail during a zero-g parabola.

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