NASA launches three tiny research satellites selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). It is the ninth edition of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) missions. The concept, design, development and the building of the satellite was done by 400 students and will be deployed from the ISS (International Space Station) through the commercially run NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) system.
It is the fourth Orbital-ATK Cygnus Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission. NASA and NanoRacks LLC. have entered into an agreement that will see the CubeSat deployments from the ISS.
CubeSats have become an integral part of diverse fields such as exploration, technology, scientific research, and educational investigations at NASA.
NASA accrues benefits from these miniature satellites in its planetary space exploration ventures. For one it provides an economical platform. It also serves as a technology demonstrator of cutting edge technology such as laser communications, energy storage, space propulsion and independent movement capabilities.
The venture also helps students to get acquainted with all aspects of satellite development, its operation and how it could be utilized or exploited in a real world.
ElaNa mission managers reach out to students across the United States providing them knowledge about licensing, integrating the satellite to the launch vehicle, testing before they are sent into orbit.
Since the beginning of this initiative in 2010, more than 100 CubeSats have been selected, and 43 CubeSat have been launched.