Special Operations Command Launches CubeSat Challenge


CubeSat ChallengeU.S. Special Operations Command is offering cash prizes for a miniature satellite, or CubeSat, competition it is hosting with NASA starting next week.

The military’s special operations teams want to see teams or individuals “advance the state of current CubeSat technologies and payloads and demonstrate applications that may benefit any of the SOCOM missions.” The satellite concepts must also “be viable for a prototype demonstration within 12-24 months.”

Miniature satellites, or CubeSats, have grown significantly in popularity in recent years. Government and academic institutions have used them as an affordable option to collect information from space for research, remote-sensing, communications and surveillance purposes.

SOCOM leaders are hosting this crowdsourcing challenge to see what can be learned from small businesses in this rapidly advancing technology sector. The Defense Department is offering seven $5,000 cash prizes spread out across multiple categories of CubeSats.

The type of capabilities that SOCOM officials hope to see addressed in this competition are:

  • Next-generation CubeSat and/or sensor technologies
  • Advanced communications; including full orbit Command & Control and data exfiltration
  • Electro-Optical (EO)/Infrared (IR) sensing and imaging
  • Multi/Hyper spectral sensor technology
  • Propulsion capabilities to modify or maintain orbits
  • Advanced On-Orbit data processing
  • Multi-function payloads
  • Tagging, Tracking and Locating capabilities

Teams can start applying for the competition next week. The deadline to submit an entry is Oct. 18 and winners will be announced Dec. 13.

SOCOM’s challenge is one of 15 challenges hosted by the NASA Tournament Lab. To learn more about the SOCOM challenge and see more details about the competition, go their website here.



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