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The ION (Illinois Observing Nanosatellite) has two primary technology missions.

  • First, it is to test an experimental low thrust, electric propulsion system which was designed and built in a joint effort with Alameda Applied Sciences Corp (AASC).
  • The second primary mission is to utilize a Photomultiplier Tube (PMT) to observe airglow phenomenon in the Earth's upper atmosphere.

In addition to these two primary missions, ION will also conduct a number of secondary objectives. It will demonstrate the space use of a singleboard computer donated by Tether Applications, Inc. (TAI). Additionally, ION will perform a feasibility study investigating the use of an onboard complimentary metaloxide semiconductor (CMOS) imaging system for star tracking and earth photography. ION will also demonstrate the use of an active magnetic attitude system. Finally, ION will have the option of being used as a space based Bulletin Board System (BBS) or digipeater to be used by ham radio operators around the planet.

The launch was not successful, as the Dnepr failed 86 sec after launch.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: University of Illinois
Contractors: University of Illinois
Equipment: Photomultiplier Tube
Configuration: CubeSat (2U)
Propulsion: low thrust, electric propulsion
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Mass: 2 kg
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
ION 2006-F03 26.07.2006 Ba LC-109/95 F Dnepr with BelKa 1, Baumanets 1, Unisat 4, PicPot, CP 1, CP 2, HAUSAT 1, ICECube 1, ICECube 2, KUTESat-Pathfinder, Mea Huaka'i, MEROPE, Ncube 1, Rincon 1, SACRED, SEEDS, AeroCube 1


  • University of Illinois ION website

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