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Alaska Research CubeSat (ARC) Selected for Launch

The Alaska Research CubeSat (ARC) satellite is one of 12 CubeSat payloads selected for launch under the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative ( This satellite is being developed through the Alaska Space Grant sponsored Space Systems Engineering Program (SSEP) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).

The Alaska Research CubeSat will be the first satellite designed, built, tested and operated by engineering and science students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). This satellite is designed as both an educational tool and a platform to facilitate rapid development of scientific and technology demonstration missions at UAF. Successful implementation of this development platform will demonstrate the ability for UAF students to compete for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) research opportunities.

The Alaska Research CubeSat is designed as a technology demonstration mission to increase the technology readiness level of the ARC subsystems and to provide NASA relevant data of the launch environment. Beyond validating the basic platform, two critical subsystems will be tested, (i) a novel low-power attitude control and determination system, and (ii) a communication system capable of high bandwidth data transfer. Validating both of these technologies determines the capabilities of future missions.

ARC consists of one educational mission objective and three science mission objectives which serve to demonstrate what capabilities are available for future missions, and identify unforeseen system issues to be improved.

  • Education Mission Objective 1 (EMO1): Provide authentic, interdisciplinary, hands-on student experiences in science and engineering through the design, development, and operation of a student small satellite mission.
  • Science Mission Objective 1 (SMO1): Characterize the thermal and vibration environment inside the launch vehicle from ignition to orbit insertion.
  • Science Mission Objective 2 (SMO2): Validate a novel low power Attitude Control and Determination System (ACDS).
  • Science Mission Objective 3 (SMO3): Validate a high bandwidth communication system by obtaining images of changing snow/ice coverage in arctic regions.