JAXA, UN Offer Cubesat Opportunities to Developing Nations from ISS

JAXA, UN Offer Cubesat Opportunities to Developing Nations from ISS

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) are offering opportunities for developing countries to deploy a cubesat from Japan’s Kibo module aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The initiative is called KiboCUBE.

Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Hakubun Shimomura, said KiboCUBE would open “new opportunities in space environment utilization … benefiting more countries from the unique platform of Kibo.”

JAXA developed the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer to release satellites from Kibo.  Cubesats are small satellites composed of one or more 10 x 10 x 10 centimeter cubes (“U”) packed with electronics and other systems.  They can range in size from 1U to 21U, but 3U and 6U are the most common.

Unlike the U.S., European, and Russian ISS modules that have only interior laboratory facilities, JAXA’s Kibo has a “back porch” that is exposed to space and its own robotic arm. The cubesats are launched to ISS on resupply missions, placed onto the back porch through an airlock, and released using Kibo’s robotic arm. 

This new JAXA-UNOOSA initiative is designed to encourage and facilitate the use of cubesats by educational and research institutions in developing nations.  The first Announcement of Opportunity is posted on the UNOOSA website.  Applications are due by March 31, 2016.  One 1U cubesat will be selected under each AO.  JAXA will pay the costs for launching the cubesat to the ISS and deploying it from Kibo.  The applicant bears the costs of designing, building and operating the cubesat.  The heads of research institutes, universities and other public organizations in Member Countries of the United Nations that do not have their own means to launch satellites into space are eligible to apply.

JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui is the most recent Japanese astronaut to live aboard the ISS.  He arrived there in July on Soyuz TMA-17M and is scheduled to return to Earth in December.  JAXA astronaut Takao Doi was aboard the STS-123 space shuttle mission that delivered Kibo to orbit.  He is now a United Nations Expert on Space Applications,

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