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We are posting updates on our progress from the fall semester. The first post, about our optical navigation system, can be found here! We have also posted a video of project presentations done at Ground Tournament 4, including our own!


The NASA Centennial Challenges program announced the results of the fourth and final Ground Tournament in the CubeQuest.

The Cislunar Explorers team is proud to say that we won first place, earning a $20,000 prize! More importantly, we are officially one of three CubeQuest selections to fly as a secondary payload on EM-1 in 2019. This will allow us to compete in the Lunar Derby and become among the first CubeSats to depart Earth orbit. We are grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate our new technologies in orbit. Success will prove the viability of water electrolysis propulsion and interplanetary optical navigation, both of which will contribute to expanding the capabilities of the CubeSat platform.

Congratulations also to our neighbors on EM-1, CU-E3 and Team Miles, both of whom will demonstrate their own incredible technologies in the Deep Space Derby. We are looking forward to completing our spacecraft and flying into space alongside them, the other secondary payloads, and the Orion space capsule.

Above all, we are excited to continue with our multi-year journey from whiteboard scribbles, to a completed design, to a manifested payload… and hopefully, to the moon!

The Cislunar Explorers are a pair of streamlined, sustainable spacecraft on a mission to orbit the Moon. They act as self-propelled engineering demonstrations, proving the technology readiness of water as rocket fuel, simple optical navigation, and more. Key subsystems complement each other in a symbiotic design aimed at reducing the cost and complexity of space exploration.

Both spacecraft launch mated together as a “6U” sized-box that could fit in a briefcase. They hitchhike into space alongside a larger spacecraft as a secondary payload; our intended ride is NASA’s EM-1 test of the Space Launch System, on which spots are available via the CubeQuest Challenge.

Spacecraft development takes place at Cornell University, with a dedicated team of researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates. We have already submitted our completed design for the first Ground Tournament of the CubeQuest Challenge. From now and throughout 2016, we are focusing on validating and integrating our design into functional prototype spacecraft. Check out our blog to follow along!