May 17, 2017

XCubesat and Spacecube to be placed in orbit from the ISS on 18th May

The two cubesats XCubesat and Spacecube, developed by French students, are scheduled to be put into orbit from the ISS on 18th May around 11 am, Paris time.

Part of a batch of 28 cubesats carried to the ISS by the Cygnus spacecraft, these satellites were designed by students with CNES support as part of the Janus project:

  • XCubesat is the first satellite designed by students from the prestigious École Polytechnique
  • Spacecube was designed by students from the École des Mines and the Lycée Diderot in Paris.

For these institutions, the project began in 2011. Since then, about 15% of students from each year group had the opportunity to take part in the project and learn more about managing space missions.

The nanosatellites will be deployed using the Japanese Kibo module on the ISS, with the help of the robotic arm and the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer tool (SSOD). This system was specifically designed to extract satellites from the Kibo airlock and launch them into space.

These manoeuvres are controlled by astronauts aboard the ISS.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the Japanese Kibo module. This module is the only “exit” which enables astronauts to install equipment without going out on a spacewalk. The equipment is placed on a sliding platform mounted on rails; then the Kibo airlock is shut and the equipment slides into space; finally, the robotic arm installs it or launches it into space.
© ESA/NASA 2016