A CubeSat crams the advanced hardware of enormous satellites into a box slightly larger than a Rubiks Cube. The satellites small size and light weight have made it cheaper than ever to launch spacecraft into orbit. Here are three citizen-led CubeSats paving an ever-more-accessible path off planet Earth.
In 2011, after watching NASAs final space shuttle launch, astronomy-app developer Tim DeBenedictis decided to crowdfund SkyCube with the help of his company, Southern Stars. The 2.9-pound CubeSat launched to the International Space Station on January 9, 2014, and astronauts deployed it February 28. Backers can use an app called Satellite Safari to take photos and tweet from orbit. After its 90-day mission, SkyCube will inflate a polyethylene balloon, drag itself into the atmosphere, and burn up.