2018.P.1.1. A CubeSat-based Minimal Interstellar Mission


Andreas Hein (1)
Martin Langer (2)
Elena Ancona (2)

  1. Initiative for Interstellar Studies, France
  2. Initiative for Interstellar Studies, Germany




CubeSat, ChipSat, SunCube, interstellar mission, heliopause, interstellar medium


Recent advances in CubeSat technology have opened up their use for deep space exploration, exemplified by Mars Cube One, Lunar Flashlight, and NEA Scout. This paper assesses the feasibility of a CubeSat-based Solar System escape mission, targeted another star. The mission objectives are to first provide a benchmark for using CubeSat technology for a very slow interstellar mission (trip time of several ten-thousands of years to a nearby star) and which subsequent missions need to overtake to reach a star in a shorter period of time. Second, the mission could demonstrate the capability of CubeSats to take measurements in deep space such as in the heliopause and of the interstellar medium. We assess existing and near-term technologies for realizing such a mission. Besides achieving the velocity requirements for such a mission, we focus particularly on the required power generation and communication technologies (optical communication). We also explore synergies with femto- and attosatellite technologies that are currently under development such as ChipSats and SunCubes which may allow for deploying secondary spacecraft from the CubeSat for performing additional measurements. The feasibility of such a minimal interstellar CubeSat mission within the next 10 years is assessed.


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