Skip Navigation
Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

LunarCube for Deep Space Missions, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

LunarCube for Deep Space Missions, Phase II
Busek, in partnership with Morehead State University (MSU), proposes to develop a versatile 6U CubeSat capable of reaching a lunar orbit from GEO. The primary objective of the Phase II effort is to demonstrate a complete, mini ion propulsion system that provides ~3000sec Isp heretofore unavailable to CubeSats, with a solid-storable iodine propellant. This type of propulsion technology would be a huge mission enabler and ideal for volume-limited satellites such as CubeSats. The 6U bus, combined with ion propulsion, has already shown being highly attractive to science payload developers targeting the upcoming SLS/EM-1 lunar mission. During Phase I Busek successfully demonstrated the world's first iodine-fueled gridded ion thruster "BIT-3". Key performance characteristics of BIT-3 include a compact design envelope (2.8km/s delta-V to a 6U/12kg CubeSat. The ultimate goal of the LunarCube program is to undertake a mission to the Moon from GEO or a translunar trajectory (such as the EM-1 drop-off) that would demonstrate the propulsion system, and carry out a lunar science program as a capability demonstration of the platform. During this mission, a related goal is to demonstrate that much of the spacecraft's miniature electronics, primarily C&DH, communications, and the propulsion system's PPU can be based on low cost components and survive the harsh deep-space environment. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Project Library

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Technology Transitions

Light bulb

Suggest an Edit

Recommend changes and additions to this project record.