Support from the NSTP is expected to drive innovation in cubesats, which are small, low-cost spacecraft — weighing only a few kilos — that can be launched on larger spacecraft.
According to the UK Space Agency, many of today’s cubesats are helping students to hone practical skills in building and operating satellites. However, with advances in technology, many people believe they will also be used for advanced science or operational uses in the future.
Dr Chris Castelli, programme manager at the UK Space Agency, said: ‘We received 30 proposals to our recent competition and have now selected the best ones to fund.
‘We’ve got a great range of ideas — from new technology such as wireless on-board monitoring and tiny thrusters to give cubesats their own manoeuvring capability to practical uses such as bioscience and space-weather monitoring.
‘All these ideas will feed into our thinking for a successor to UKube-1, which we hope to select in 2013. It’s going to be exciting to see what emerges.’