NASA has awarded three teams slots to launch their small satellites aboard the first integrated flight of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft dubbed Exploration Mission-1.
Winners of the Cube Quest Challenge include Cislunar Explorers from Cornell University, CU-E3 from the University of Colorado and Team Miles from Tampa, Florida-based company Fluid & Reason, NASA said Friday.
The three teams will receive $20,000 each in prize money and their CubeSats will engage in a deep space competition that offers a total of $5 million in prizes.
The final phase of the Cube Quest Challenge will involve two segments called Deep Space Derby and Lunar Derby.
The Deep Space Derby will call on teams to demonstrate communications from a range of at least four million kilometers from Earth while the Lunar Derby will require CubeSats to complete a lunar orbit where they will vie for near-Earth communications and longevity achievements.
NASA expects the CubeSats to drive advances in small spacecraft propulsion and communication technology since they will be some of the first small satellites to operate in deep space.