The First Interplanetary CubeSat Workshop, scheduled to take place May 29-30 in Cambridge, MA has filled up for both attendees and visitors. A waiting list has been created.

The workshop has received more than 40 “high quality” abstracts.

This unexpectedly strong interest in interplanetary CubeSat missions is a good sign. During the 1990’s, NASA looked to innovative low-cost Discovery and New Horizon missions as a solution to cost escalation and cost overruns. The motto in those days was “No more Cassinis!” Unfortunately, that changed after a few highly publicized (and highly politicized) mission failures. The result is cost-busting missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and Mars Science Laboratory. Even Discovery-class missions have escalated in cost and complexity. The merits of conducting frequent, low-cost missions are undeniable, however. Thanks to rapid advances in microelectronics, the idea of low-cost planetary missions is reemerging in the form of  CubeSats.

Best of all, since CubeSat is an open standard, there is a better chance the interplanetary CubeSat idea will survive even if NASA or it’s political masters lose interest.

Written by Astro1 on April 19th, 2012 , Nanosatellites, Planetary science

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