CubeSats, a miniature satellite technology co-created at Cal Poly, will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame during the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs April 4-7. 

Retiring aerospace engineering professor Jordi Puig-Suari, co-developer of the CubeSat, poses with the invention. Joe Johnston | Cal Poly

Jordi Puig-Suari, a former Cal Poly aerospace engineering professor, and now-retired Stanford University professor Bob Twiggs created the CubeSat together in 1999.

Today, the CubeStat has now made substantial contributions to space exploration and research worldwide. More than 1,660 CubeSats have been launched to space as of Jan. 1, 2022, according to the Nanosats Database, with an estimated 700 more to be launched this year.

Initially, the project was created with the intention of giving students experience in satellite technology and functionality. The standardization of the invention made it an affordable tool to conduct experiments and research in space. 

CubeSat has since grown to be a regular aspect of important space missions and are regularly launched from the International Space Station for various experiments. 

“Not only have thousands of students from all over the world been able to launch a satellite, it has turned into a billion-dollar industry and has played a major part in bringing about a renewed enthusiasm about space that hasn’t been there since the Moon landing,” Ryan Nugent, the director of the Cal Poly CubeSat Lab, said according to a Cal Poly press release. 

Cal Poly Professor John Bellardo, far right, measures a 3U satellite in the Cal Poly CubeSat Lab assisted by, from left Jordan Ticktin, a Cal Poly alumnus who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and Ryan Luke, an electrical engineering student. Cal Poly students have designed and built 12 CubeSats that were launched into space. Joe Johnston | Cal Poly

The invention’s induction to the Space Technology Hall of Fame highlights a huge success for Cal Poly and its aerospace department, as well as sparked a partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory. 

The partnership will provide access to newer equipment, facility upgrades, and experts to assist in pushing the CubeSat innovation further into the future of space exploration and research, according to Associate Dean Eric Mehiel, an Aerospace Engineering faculty member.

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