NASA Seeks Proposals For Edison Small Satellite Demonstrations

Artist concept of a CubeSat in space. CubeSats are tiny, fully-functional satellites.  Image credit: Clyde Space
Artist concept of a CubeSat in space. CubeSats are tiny, fully-functional satellites. Image credit: Clyde Space

WASHINGTON — NASA is seeking proposals for flight demonstrations of
small satellite technologies with the goal of increasing the
technical capabilities and range of uses for this emerging category
of spacecraft.

Small satellites typically weigh less than 400 pounds (180 kg) and are
generally launched as secondary payloads on rockets carrying larger
spacecraft. The small satellite category includes softball-sized
“CubeSats,” which are standardized, small, cube-shaped spacecraft
that can carry small payloads, and even smaller experimental

“NASA’s Edison SmallSat program helps to continue America’s leadership
in space through the further development of this class of satellites
— small, agile and relatively inexpensive spacecraft that could
perform many tasks in space enabling new missions and providing
unique educational opportunities,” said Michael Gazarik, director of
NASA’s Space Technology Program at the agency’s headquarters in
Washington. “These spacecraft represent a new opportunity among the
many ways that NASA can approach its diverse goals in science,
exploration and education.”

NASA’s Edison Small Satellite Demonstration Program has released a
broad agency announcement seeking low-cost, flight demonstration
proposals for small satellite technology. The topic areas for this
solicitation will be limited to demonstrations of communications
systems for small satellites, proximity operations with small
satellites and propulsion systems for Cubesat-scale satellites. Other
technology and application demonstrations will be addressed in future

“Encouraging the growth of small-spacecraft technology also benefits
our economy,” said Andrew Petro, Edison program executive at NASA
Headquarters. “Many of the technologies that enable small spacecraft
come from the world of small business, where commercial practices
provide innovative and cost-effective solutions. Those technologies
will continue to advance as demand and competition drive companies to

The advancement of small spacecraft technologies offers the potential
for small satellites to expand the types of science and exploration
at NASA. These spacecraft can accomplish new types of missions never
before possible, and they are expected to provide space access to
more technologists and scientists. Their small size means that they
are less expensive to build and launch, which allows NASA to engage
the expanding small-space community, including small businesses and
university researchers, in technology that helps enable larger goals.

Executive summaries of proposals must be submitted by March 4, 2012.
NASA expects to invite full proposals this spring, with selections
made this fall. A selected project must be completed within two to
three years at a total cost of no more than $15 million. The number
of awards will depend on the quality and cost of proposals and
availability of funding.

The Edison Small Satellite Demonstration Program is managed by NASA’s
Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., for the Space
Technology Program, which works to provide the technologies and
capabilities that will enable NASA’s future missions. To view the
announcement and instructions for submissions, visit:

For more information on NASA’s Space Technology Program, visit:

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