NASA plans to send two pairs of CubeSats into orbit on Feb. 5 as part of Astra Space‘s first operational satellite launch.
The satellites represent the space agency’s 41st mission under the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites or ELaNa initiative, Jason Costa wrote in a NASA blog post published Tuesday.
Astra’s Rocket 3.3 launch vehicle will carry the four CubeSats from Florida-based Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, under the Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 contract. NASA awarded a total of $16.7 million to Astra and two other companies in 2020 for the VCLS 2 program.
The launch will also mark the first VCLS mission from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 46.
ELaNa aims to boost the interest of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas. The new ELaNa CubeSats will perform demonstrations and scientific investigations in the areas of space weather, rapid spacecraft deorbiting, quantum gyroscopes and in-space inspection.
BAMA-1, one of the CubeSat missions, will demonstrate a drag sail technology designed to rapidly deorbit a satellite.
Participants of the 41st ELaNa mission are:
- Johnson Space Center
- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
- University of California, Berkeley
- New Mexico State University, Las Cruces