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CAPSat [University of Illinois]

The CAPSat (Cool Annealing Payload Satellite) is a 3U CubeSat a technology demonstration mission for CubeSat navigation and control.

CAPSat was originally to investigate three unique science experiments utilizing the onboard payloads:

  • strain-actuated deployable panels
  • an active thermal system for small spacecraft
  • single-photon avalanche detectors (SPAD)

Due to a lack of development resources, the active cooling payload and the strain-actuated fine pointing control payload were determined to be unsuitable for flight by the mission team at the University of Illinois. With the approval of NASA, the payloads were de-manifested from the mission and uninstalled in order to reduce risk to the SPAD annealing payload. The respective deployable panels of the two removed payloads were also uninstalled from the spacecraft. The SPAD annealing payload is the sole science payload of the mission. The meaning of the CAPSat acronym was hence changed from "Cooling, Annealing, Pointing Satellite" to "Cool Annealing Payload Satellite".

The SPAD (single-photon avalanche detectors) quantum annealing payload will evaluate technologies for healing radiation damage in crystalline single photon detectors.

It was selected in 2017 by NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) to be launched as part of the ELaNa program. It was launched in August 2021 onboard of Dragon CRS-23 to the ISS, where it was deployed on 12 October 2021.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Contractors: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Equipment: SPAD
Configuration: CubeSat (3U)
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 4 kg
Orbit: 419 km 423 km, 51.64
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
CAPSat 1998-067SV 29.08.2021 CCK LC-39A Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with Dragon CRS-23, PR_CuNaR 2, SPACE-HAUC, CUAVA 1, Binar 1, Maya 3, Maya 4


  • Laboratory for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois: CAPSAT

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