Feb 26, 2019

Nasa Cube Quest Challenge

  • Crimson Education
  • NASA, E Street Southwest, Washington D.C., DC, United States
Multiple Competition Workshop Research Opportunity Camp Skill Building Other


The Cube Quest Challenge is sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Centennial Challenge Program. The challenge offers a total of $5 million to teams that meet the challenge objectives of designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the moon.

Cube Quest teams have the opportunity to compete for a secondary payload spot on the first mission of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. This will launch atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

This competition includes three stages: Ground Tournaments, Deep Space Derby, and Lunar Derby. Each team may compete in any one of the four Ground Tournaments. Teams that rate high on mission safety and probability of success will receive incremental awards. The Ground Tournaments are held every four to six months, leading to an opportunity to earn a spot on the first integrated flight of Orion and SLS.

The Deep Space Derby will focus on discovering innovative solutions to deep space communications using small spacecraft. The Lunar Derby concentrates primarily on propulsion for small spacecraft and near-Earth communications. Together, these challenges are expected to contribute to revealing deep space exploration to non-government spacecraft for the first time.

Advancements in small spacecraft capabilities do not only provide benefits for future missions, but also enable entirely new mission scenarios. Therefore, the Cube Quest Challenge seeks to establish precedence for all subsystems necessary to perform deep-space exploration using small spacecraft.

For more information visit the official website here

Type of Opportunity

Extracurricular Activity

Age Range




This is a highly competitive competition as all US citizens can apply. What makes it very competitive is because NASA is highly-recognised world organisation offering a prize totalled at $5 million.

Participation Cost


No information on registration fees/costs.

There may be general costs with the teams's development of the submitted project design. This will vary depending on the nature of the submission.

Other expenses may apply to international travelling participants.

Minimum Technical Skill Needed


Participants must be able to develop a concept of operations (concepts, subsystems, mechanisms) and a mission design (planned trajectory, navigation, command and control concepts). These concepts require knowledge in space technology.

Time Commitment


This will require a substantial amount of time commitment for preparing and submitting their mission concept package. Individuals must also consult with their team regularly to produce the final product together.

Application Process Includes

To compete and be eligible for prizes, each competitor team must submit two different data packages: first, teams submit a Registration Data Package; second, within 60 days after submitting the Registration Data Package (but at least 60 days before their CubeSat's final integration with their deployment mechanism), teams submit a Mission Concept Registration Data Package. A team needs to submit each kind of data package only once, to be eligible for all the Ground Tournaments, the Lunar Derby, and the Deep Space Derby. he Mission Concept Registration Data Package must include:

- Description of the concept of operations (particularly the CubeSat propulsion and telemetry concepts, articulated subsystems and mechanisms, and ground segment concepts).
- Conceptual mission design (particularly the planned trajectory, and navigation, command and control concepts).
- Conceptual method for your CubeSat disposal.
- Team's Plans for Radio Licensing and Operations.