CubeSat Challenge

Locutus of Borg would approve.

As part of an effort to support innovation in aerospace engineering, Stratasys and MakerBot have announced the CubeSat Challenge on GrabCAD, the largest online community of mechanical engineers.

Each CubeSat has an interface compatible with a single launch deployment system. It is a miniaturized space research satellite with a mass not greater than 1.33 kg and a size of 10 cm cubed (1U). It can be scaled along one axis. For example, a 2U satellite might have 20 x 10 x 10 cm dimensions. It was developed in the late 90s at Cal Poly and Stanford to help universities perform science and exploration. CubeSat launches have been performed by both academia and companies, large and small.

A typical CubeSat structure contains multiple fasteners and 30 to 50 parts that need to be assembled manually. This is an area where 3D printing offers an intriguing alternative.

"3D printing allows aerospace engineers to think differently about building satellites and gives them a whole new toolset for packing more capability into a constrained volume. 3D printing can also simplify production as you move from the hand-built satellites of today to an automated process that will enable constellations of small satellites to be built more efficiently," said Scott Sevcik, business development manager for aerospace & defense at Stratasys. "We're excited to see how the GrabCAD community can advance the CubeSat standard to provide even greater utility,"

Contest participants have a chance to win cash prizes as well as MakerBot Replicator 3D printers and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing print services. A panel of prominent judges from the aerospace and 3D printing fields, including CubeSat co-inventor Dr. Jordi Puig-Suar, will select the winners. Challenge entries must be submitted by June 22, 2015.