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AeroCube 3

AeroCube 3 [The Aerospace Corporation]

The AeroCube cubesats are 1 kg nanosatellites for technical research. They are built and operated by the Aerospace Corporation.

The AeroCube-3 mission is divided into two parts.

  • During Phase A The AeroCube-3 was tethered to the Orion 38 motor, which is the upper stage of the TacSat-3 Minotaur-1 launch vehicle. During this phase, AeroCube-3 measured its dynamics while attached to a tumbling object by a 61 m tether. The upper stage was photographed in orbit using a VGA-resolution camera with a wide-angle field of view. By drawing in the tether, a tether reeling mechanism inside the picosatellite could close the distance operated by ground command.
  • In Phase B the tether is cut and AeroCube-3 became a free-flying CubeSat picosatellite. Permanent magnets and hysteresis material were used to align the satellite with the Earth's magnetic field during this phase. A sensor suite swept the Earth's surface in this configuration, allowing for various experiments to be carried out. AeroCube-3 saved sensor data until it passes over its ground station, at which point it was downloaded. [5]

AeroCube 3 was successfully launched to orbit on a Minotaur-1 and conducted imaging experiments, a tether experiment and deployed a balloon as a deorbit device at the end of the mission.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: The Aerospace Corporation
Contractors: The Aerospace Corporation
Configuration: CubeSat (1U)
Propulsion: None
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 1 kg
Orbit: 427 km × 466 km, 40.48
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
AeroCube 3 (AC 3) 2009-028E 19.05.2009 WI LA-0B Minotaur-1 with TacSat 3, PharmaSat 1, HawkSat 1, CP 6


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