More and more people are now realizing the capabilities and the potentials of CubeSats. CubeSats are small cubic satellites people can use to explore space and take advantage of space technology at a very low cost. These small satellites are highly cheap to build and to launch. In addition, CubeSats use familiar platforms and tools so that people can easily take part in exploring space and taking advantage of space technology.
How CubeSats started
People behind CubeSats had a simple initial goal. It was to build something so that students can learn about space and spacecraft. This was not easy to accomplish then because of the constraints about budget and available technologies. It was known then that to build and launch something into space would cost millions or billions of dollars. In addition, it will take several years to build and launch satellites into space. The goal was simple so the best place to start is with the Sputnik. The objective is to build and launch satellites that have the same capabilities as the Sputnik. One great start is by putting solar panels so that the satellites will run longer than the Sputnik. Other features and devices can be added later on such as measuring temperature and other stuff. The important thing here was to make everything simple so that people can build and launch something into space. The challenge lies in systems integration and space systems training tool. People need to work on big things to build and launch even small satellites. People need to consider several factors such as cost and technology to get these things into space. To get around the challenge, it is highly valuable that people should start with something truly small. The satellites should be very small and very cheap. In addition, the launch itself should be extremely cheap. This way, there is not much to lose. People can learn and improve on the designs of what small simple satellites can do without spending much time and money on the construction and launch of these satellites. This is where CubeSats finally come in. These are cubic satellites that measure 10 centimeters on each side and that weigh one kilogram each. This sounds very easy and reasonable. There was something to get started with and people should then work around those specifications. The focus is still on building and launching something so that students can learn about spacecraft and space technology. The focus is still on launching something into space without worrying about other devices and features. The building and launching of CubeSats themselves is already a huge challenge. At the beginning, it is hard to design CubeSats. The main problem is about finding parts that can fit into these things. It is not practical to include traditional space stuff there. People then came up with the idea that they should explore other things out there. This is where people are starting to find the solutions outside of traditional space technology.
The success of CubeSats
The success of CubeSats comes from being open-sourced and being simple in its design. With its being open-sourced, more and more people can take part on the development of the design and the devices included in CubeSats. Many brains are working together which drives innovations on every aspect of these satellites. The simple design of CubeSats also contributes a lot to their success. It is just a box and people should be looking for things to fit in that box. The important thing here is that the box itself is robust enough to protect the payload. One is sure that the box would not break apart in space. That changes the whole risk equation. One of the main concerns about launching satellites into space is if these can make it through and would not break apart. The concern is already addressed by putting the components inside a robust box. One can put cameras, sensors, battery and many other things as long as these can fit inside the box. The simple design opens many doors of possibilities about what can be brought into space. The simple design and being open-source of CubeSats make these things popular to more and more people. These two are working together to improve their capabilities and come up with other innovations for CubeSats. The simple design makes people interested in what CubeSats can do. The design makes it very simple and accessible to people with different backgrounds. Students, engineers, scientists, and hobbyists can already take part in exploring space with these CubeSats. With more and more people with different backgrounds work together because it is open-source, this causes the design to improve more at astounding speeds. Today, people are coming up with several different ideas about what to do with CubeSats. It just started with a simple goal in mind, which is to help students learn about spacecraft. Now, people use and explore CubeSats for different purposes that extend the functionality and features of these satellites. This will be a long journey as more and more people are taking part in exploring and using CubeSats.