NASA CubeQuest Challenge

This Challenge is sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Centennial Challenge Program and offers monetary incentive to teams that are innovative in meeting specific guidelines set by NASA's CubeQuest Challenge.  This is not limited to university students. To learn more visit NASA's CubeQuest webpage.

Our Team

The University of Colorado - Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) project is currently offered as a graduate student course at the University of Colorado. The course is offered to allow students to obtain hands-on experience in the field of astronautics. CU-E3’s mission objective is to foster innovative CubeSat communication technologies. Our CubeSat will be attempting to communicate beyond Earth orbit at more than 10 times the distance to the Moon. This will require us to “escape” the sphere of influence of the “Earth” and “explore” deep space, thus we arrived at the name Earth Escape Explorer.

Summer 2017 Team Members 

  • Dr. Scott Palo (Principal Investigator), PhD - Associate Dean of ResearchCU-E3 mission patch image
  • Dr. James Mason (Project Advisor), PhD - Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
  • Dr. Tom Woods (Technical Advisor), PhD - Associate Director Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
  • Dan Kubitschek (Deep Space Navigation, Technical Advisor) - Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics 
  • John Sobtzak (Communication/RF, Technical Advisor/System Engineer) - National Center for Atmopsheric Research
  • Andrew Dahir (Managerial/Technical Student Advisor) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student 
  • Benjamin Fried (Project Manager) - CU-Boulder Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student
  • Charles Musgrave (Project Manager) - CU-Boulder Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Student
  • Aaron Aboaf (Structures Lead, Machinist) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Student
  • Alex Lubar (Structures Member, CAD Guru) - CU-Boulder Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Student
  • Dhiraj Bansal​ (Structures Member, CAD Guru) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student
  • Kyle Wislinsky (Communication PCB Designer) - CU-Boulder Electrical Engineering Undergraduate Student
  • Travis Moyer (Communication/RF, FCC/Spectrum Manager) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student
  • Varun Joshi​ (Communication/RF, PCB Design) - CU-Boulder Electrical Engineering Graduate Student
  • Elie Tianang (Communication/RF, Reflectarray Development/Advisement) - CU-Boulder Electrical Engineering Graduate Student 
  • Tim Wiley (ADCS Lead, SRP Developer) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student
  • Chinmayi Dhangekar​ (Thermal Lead) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student
  • Leng Ying Khoo (EPS Lead) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student
  • Alec Forsman (EPS Member) - CU-Boulder Aerospace Engineering Graduate 2016

The Satellite

Check out our interactive 3D model of our satellite.

The University of Colorado - Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) team is competiting for a launch spot on-board the SLS/EM-1 mission. CU-E3 will be competing in the Deep Space Derby portion of the CubeQuest Challenge, which is focused upon advancing deep space CubeSat communication techniques. Using the wealth of communication knowledge and technology developed at the University of Colorado – Boulder, such as our reflectarray and X-Band transmitter, CU-E3 believes it has all of the critical components to be successful in this competition. 

CU-E3 will use a lunar gravity assist to propel itself into heliocentric orbit in order to distance itself from the Earth. Our CubeSat will enter a larger than 1 AU orbit and thus be trailing the Earth, slowly distancing itself over time. As CU-E3 travels further from Earth, our developed communication technology will be demonstrated by establishing contact with our ground station network beyond 4 million kilometers until the end of the one year mission lifetime, at which point CU-E3 is expected to achieve an Earth-Satellite distance of more than 27 million kilometers! Finally, CU-E3 will not be flying an on-board propulsion system, and will be using Solar Radiation Pressure (SRP) for reaction wheel desaturation, which will leverage innovative research being performed here at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The team will be partnering with Blue Canyon Technologies, a local SmallSat company who will be donating an XB1 system and providing various test and integration services.  

For more information, please see the "Partners" page.