Cubesat Program Assessment
114 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 3, 2010
Many countries are considering the role of space technology in their science and technology portfolios. Countries with no previous or expressed interest in space technology are now assessing potential applications of space technology. National space agencies through bi-lateral agreements, the United Nations (UN), NGOs, and some private entities are extolling the benefits of space technology, products and services for the emerging and developing world. Some countries contemplate strategies to develop indigenous space technology capacity. The range of space technology capacity contemplated may include goals such as developing a cadre of STEM 21st century workforce, increasing utilization of space data products and services, establishment of a satellite manufacturing base, purpose-built space launch facilities, or even developing space launch capability.
A new paradigm in the satellite community is the practice of developing satellites weighing less than 500 kilograms with capabilities comparable to much larger satellites. Small satellites have been described as a disruptive technology due to their significantly lower costs and faster development cycles. In particular cubesats have attracted considerable interest from academic, government and industry. Potential utility of these platforms has reached a level where industry is beginning to commercialize the technology. How may cubesat programs contribute to national priorities? How do government science and technology policy makers measure success of these programs? A methodology is presented which classifies the objectives of various cubesat projects and relates them to an internationally recognized socioeconomic index. Based on outcomes of this analysis recommendations are offered on the role of cubesats in science and technology policy of emerging and developing countries.
Keywords: cubesat, STEM, Science, Disruptive Technology, small satellites
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