Call for Letters of Interest – Canadian CubeSat Project

Do you teach or do research at a Canadian post-secondary institution? Would you and students from your institution like to build and send your own small satellite into space? The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is presently working on an initiative that would allow you to do just that. The Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP) will provide professors in post-secondary institutions with an opportunity to engage their students in a real space mission. Through this unique hands-on experience, students will learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), stimulating their interest in STEM education and careers. This initiative falls under the CSA's mandate to foster the continuing development of a critical mass of researchers and highly qualified people in Canada.

The CCP also aims to ensure equitable opportunities for students across Canada, and will award up to 13 grants, one for each province and territory. This may include inter-provincial/territorial collaboration among CubeSat teams to facilitate the participation of all provinces and territories. Each grant will be worth about $200,000. The CSA will also make arrangements for the Cubesats' launches from the International Space Station (ISS) and cover the associated costs.

We invite you to respond to this Call for Letters of Interest (LOI). The CSA will use your response to evaluate your level of interest in developing a Cubesat and training students in this endeavour as well as to identify the resources the CSA will require to make the CCP a success. The information you share will enable the CCP organizers to develop a national network of faculty members in post-secondary institutions who are enthusiastic about CubeSats and to foster potential inter-provincial/territorial collaboration among participating team members.

Considerations

  • In early September 2017, an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is planned to be published on the CSA website. Post-secondary institutions will then have two months to submit their applications to the CSA.
  • Once the AO is published, all questions from potential applicants and answers from the CSA will be made available on the AO webpage.
  • Institutions selected for a grant will have between 24 and 36 months to develop their small satellite, commonly called a CubeSat.
  • The CSA plans to support three sizes of CubeSats: 1U (10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm and 2.4 kg), 2U (10 cm × 10 cm × 20 cm and 3.6 kg) and 3U (10 cm × 10 cm × 30 cm and 4.8 kg). Priority will be given to 1U and 2U.
  • Collaboration among institutions is strongly encouraged, since the goal is to consider for selection one proposal per province/territory.
  • Each CubeSat project would be proposed by a post-secondary institution in a province or territory and led by one or more faculty members from that institution.
  • The faculty member(s) would be responsible for supervising a team of students to ensure transfer of knowledge and timely progress of the project.
  • Inter-provincial/territorial collaboration among CubeSat teams would be encouraged, particularly for those with limited experience in developing CubeSats or satellite instruments and technologies.
  • The CSA may award up to 13 grants, each worth about $200,000. The CSA will provide the launch services for the CubeSats at no cost to the grantees.

Sending your Letter of Interest

Since this LOI is aimed at faculty members in post-secondary institutions, you should consider the following:

  1. Your proposed project should have the objectives of attracting students and faculty in space research; providing students with training opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills; and encouraging the participation of underrepresented students in STEM, as well as business and communications disciplines.
  2. Your project shall be managed with clearly defined tasks, milestones and schedule.
  3. Your project shall require multiple disciplinary skillsets.
  4. The faculty members shall be responsible for assembling and supervising a multidisciplinary team of students for the duration of the development.
  5. Collaboration with industry and other organizations will be encouraged.
  6. In general, the complexity and cost of the CubeSat increase with its size. On the other hand, a larger CubeSat offers more capability due to the increased volume and mass for the payload. You will have to seek a balance between cost/complexity and capability.

Elements to be addressed in your letter, taking into account the previously mentioned considerations:

  1. Your motivation to participate in the CubeSat Project.
  2. A description of your knowledge and experience with satellites and space missions.
  3. Your project management experience in projects similar in scope to building a CubeSat and/or a satellite component/instrument.
  4. Your likelihood of obtaining monetary and technical support from sources other than the CSA, such as from academic institution(s) (including your own), industry, provincial/territorial government.
  5. Your interest in collaborating with other professors and/or with industry in your province/territory or another province/territory.
  6. Your interest in having your name shared with other interested professors. The CSA will compile the names and contact information of all interested respondents and generate a list to be shared among them. The list will serve to encourage discussion and collaboration.

Letter of Interest Format:

  1. Maximum of 2 pages or 500 words.
  2. Microsoft Word or PDF.

Please send your LOI, along with any additional inquiries you may have, to asc.projetcubesatasc-csacubesatproject.csa@canada.ca.

A series of webinars will be hosted by CSA experts in order to provide interested professors with general information on CubeSat design and the CCP.

Webinar's calendar
Date Thursday May 18th 2017 Wednesday May 24th 2017 Tuesday May 30th 2017
Language CCP Webinar in English CCP Webinar in French CCP Webinar in English
Time 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT 3:00 p.m. to 16:30 p.m. EDT
Registration Register for May 18th 2017 webinar Register for May 24th 2017 webinar Register for May 30th 2017 webinar
Target Audience Professors from post-secondary institutions

Please note that this LOI shall not be interpreted as any form of commitment between the CSA and the respondent. Further, this LOI shall in no way be considered as authorization by the Crown for respondents to undertake any work, which would result in costs to either the respondent or the Crown.

Respondents shall not be bound by any aspect of their response to this LOI, and the responses will not be used for screening purposes. All responses to this LOI will be held by the Crown on a confidential basis (subject to applicable legislation) unless explicitly expressed otherwise by the respondent as above. Not responding to this LOI will not penalize a post-secondary institution should the initiative take place.

For your response to be considered, you need to provide your input by June 9, 2017. To expedite the compilation of the above-mentioned list, respondents are encouraged to submit their LOI as soon as possible.

Additional information:

This initiative falls under the CSA's mandate to contribute to Canadian space expertise and proficiency. It has four principal objectives:

  1. Provide a unique opportunity for post-secondary institutions from each province and territory and their staff and students to be involved in the development and operation of a CubeSat. This initiative also provides the opportunity to develop business and communications skills required for the jobs of tomorrow.
  2. Increase the level of technical and/or scientific knowledge of the students.
  3. Encourage innovation through payload development and experiments in a real space environment.
  4. Stimulate interest in STEM, as well as business and communications, among young people across Canada.

What's a CubeSat?

In 1999, California Polytechnic State University and Stanford University launched the CubeSat concept. The concept was immediately adopted by several academic institutions worldwide. In less than a decade, hundreds of post-secondary institutions in over 40 countries have developed or are in the process of developing CubeSats. As the capability of microelectronics improves, CubeSat popularity has spread to government agencies, research organizations and private enterprises. CubeSats have proven to be capable of carrying out missions for scientific research, Earth observation, meteorological measurements, and imaging.

In 2016, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report entitled Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box. The report provides a comprehensive review of CubeSat missions in the US and elsewhere. More information on CubeSat standards and some past missions.