CubeSat released in orbit, proving feasibility
China’s Tianzhou 1 cargo spacecraft successfully released a cube satellite while in orbit on Tuesday, and signals from the satellite — known as a CubeSat — were immediately received by ground technicians, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
The CubeSat was carried into orbit by Tianzhou 1, which was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China’s Hainan province on April 20.
Tuesday’s release was the first time China has activated a cube satellite — typically measuring 10 centimeters on each side of a cube — from an orbiting spacecraft.
Traditionally, a CubeSat is released late in the launch phase.
The test release has laid a technical foundation for China’s future space station to launch more microsatellites and nanosatellites and to provide other in-orbit services.
Like a Rubik’s cube, a CubeSat is composed of smaller cubic units. Depending on its purpose, a CubeSat may contain two, three or more such units.
Compared with other satellites, CubeSats are smaller, lighter and more economical in development and production.