Florida CubeSat Program

NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium

The Florida Space Gant Consortium is pleased to announce the Florida CubeSat Program.  The goal of the program is to have a flight ready 1U CubeSat (http://www.cubesat.org/) satellite built and ready to be launched in 2013. The satellite will be designed and built in three years.  The program will take place in two phases.  Phase A is a student design program in which groups will design, build and test subsystems of the CubeSat.  Completed prototypes of the CubeSat subsystems will be flown as a weather balloon payload as part of the subsystem testing.  Winners of Phase A will be invited to apply for Phase B which is integration of all the subsystems into a flight ready CubeSat.  Two rounds of Phase A competition will occur, the first is during the 2010-2011 academic year and the second during the 2011-2012 academic year.  After Phase B in 2013, we will have a fully tested flight ready FSCG CubeSat satellite that will be ready for flight when an opportunity is provided.

The CubeSat satellite is to be designed for space flight with a 6 month lifetime. However for Phase A, a prototype test unit will be flown in a balloon environment with parts applicable for a balloon flight. Parts can be commercial version and not mil spec or space rated.

2010-2011: Phase A

This year, we will support 10 teams: 6 subsystems teams and 4 payload teams. The subsystems are:

  • Command and Data Handling  and Power Management
  • Communications and telemetry
  • Attitude Determination and Control

 Examples of Payloads (but not limited to):

  • Thermal experiment designed to measure environmental  effect of at two thermally dissimilar materials measuring their contraction and expansion
  • Weather instruments
  • Detection of nitrogen oxides
  • Measure  cosmic radiation energy in the Earth’s atmosphere at various altitudes and various sunlight exposures

We will fund 2 groups for each subsystem and 4 groups for payload development.  FSGC affiliates are encouraged to submit a 3 page proposal.  The design competition will entail design, construction of payload, ground testing and flight test on a weather balloon.  The requirement for flight ready hardware is detailed on the requirement section but it is intended that all subcomponents and payloads be designed for space flight.  Phase A fight test will however take place on a weather balloon.

Selected teams will be provided $1000 to conduct the program. The Consortium is required to match its prime award from NASA (from which the awards under this program will be funded) on a 1:1 basis. Therefore, applicants will be required to match 100% of their requested funds with non-federal funds from their institution. Match can be in the form of either cash or in-kind costs, academic release for faculty members, student stipends, instrument, and computer time. However, equipment purchase and/or cost of pro-rated use cannot be considered as match. The funds are intended for hardware purchase and for travel cost to KSC for flight test on a weather balloon.

The teams will be paid cost reimbursable in three installments.

  1. Completion of Design $300
  2. Completion of  and ground testing of CubeSat subsystem of payload- $500
  3. Completion of Flight test on weather balloon- $200

Invitation to apply for Phase B will depend on your performance in the following areas:

  • Completion of flight ready payload/subassembly
  • Ground Testing
  • Flight Testing
  • Meeting Design requirements, Ease of Integration
  • Meeting timelines and delivery dates
  • Detailed documentation for Phase B purpose
  • Final Presentation
  • Communication, responsiveness, team work
  • Monthly report- 1 page and return of leftover parts

The decision to invite your team to Phase B will be made by FSGC.

Proposal Requirements

  • Please email Letter of Intent consisting of which category you are applying to, Faculty mentor, contact information to Dr. Larry Chew (Lnc@mail.ucf.edu) by Sept 14th.
  • Proposal is due Sept 27th, 2010
  • Maximum of 3 pages,  1” margins, minimum of 10 pt font
  • Sections should include:
    1. Application category – subsystem or payload
    2. Faculty Mentor, contact information
    3. Students involved & email addresses
    4. Schedule/Timeline
    5. Budget
    6. Ground test plans
    7. Flight Test plans
    8. Documentations to be provided to FSGC

Note: Please do not expect to recover your payload.  The wind conditions inFlorida are such that 95% of our payloads end up in the Atlantic Ocean.


  • September 1, 2010:  RFP released
  • Sept 17:  Letter of Intent Due
  • Sept 27t:  Proposal Due
  • Oct 2:  Teams announced
  • The total timeline may not take more than 11 month period.  FSGC will provide up to 3 balloon launches starting in February.  Please contact Dr. L Chew to arrange for a balloon launch.  Arrangements for launch must be made by March 1, 2011.  FSGC will provide the balloon launch, FAA clearance, 144 MHz downlink.  For the payload groups, we will also help you interface your experiments to our PIC processor with 5 A/D channels for command and data handling if needed.

Design Requirements

It is our intension that all of the groups work collaboratively at a system level to ensure all the subsystems can be can come together and meet all the requirements of a completed 1U CubeSat.

The requirements below that are marked “approximate” are to allow for some give and take between groups with the goal of meeting the requirements of a space flight ready 1U CubeSat.  FSGC will approve all changes to these requirements.  It is critical that each group keep FSGC current with any and all changes to these requirements.

Command and Data Handling and Power Management

Power Systems:

  • Must at least provide 12volts and 1.5 amps which can be subdivided into 3.3 v and 5 volts buses (3 each)
  • 210 gram mass
  • Must provide 22 Watt Hour energy storage – “approximate”
  • Solar Cells
  • Must be able to monitor and regulate charge of batteries
  • Board Height 30 mm – “approximate”

Flight Computer:

  • Must run off of 3.3, 5, or 12 volts
  • 140 grams – “approximate”
  • Power consumption 20 mA – “approximate”
  • Must provide enough IO’s and ADC’s for each subsystem
  • Must be able to provide temperature, altitude/pressure, on-board clock, and power status to all other subsystems and to groundstation
  • Provide development hardware, software, and flight code
  • Must provide Communications with data packet size and frequency
  • Board Height 30 mm – “approximate”

Communications and telemetry

  • Must use 3.3, 5, or 12 volts
  • 300 grams with antennas – “approximate”
  • RS232 communication protocol with computer
  • 2 Watts while transmitting, .5 watts while receiving
  • Board Height (no antennas) 30 mm – “approximate”

Attitude Determination and Control

  • Must provide attitude and health data to flight computer
  • must run off of 3.3, 5, or 12 volts
  • 900-1000 gram mass
  • RS232 communication protocol with computer
  • Board Height 85 mm – “approximate”

Phase B: Satellite Integration

We will run two cycles of Phase A (year 1 and year 2).  Selected Phase A teams will be invited to submit a proposal to participate in Phase B which consists of building the subsystems, payloads and integration of the CubeSat.

FSGC will then select the teams to build the flight ready CubeSat, one team for each subsystem and up to 2 payload teams.  One of these teams will be selected to also function as the CubeSat system integrator.  This is why the documentation and flight readiness of the subsystems are critical to the program.