The Canadian Space Agency Builds on the Canadian CubeSat Project with New CUBICS Opportunity

CubeSat deployment from the ISS. Credit: NASA.

Building on the ongoing Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is launching a new follow-on program, the CubeSats Initiative in Canada for STEM (CUBICS).

A source familiar with the CCP and the new CUBICS opportunity but not authorized to speak publicly about the new initiative told SpaceQ that CUBICS builds on lessons learned from the CPP. Specifically, SpaceQ was told that some teams from the Canadian CubeSat Project didn’t have the knowledge or experience to fully succeed under Canadian CubeSat Project.

With that in mind, the CSA and stakeholders decided any follow-on project would have two streams, one for entry level efforts and second for teams that are better prepared.

Stream 1 applications accepted will receive a grant of $150,000 for a “payload project” over a maximum period of up to 2 1/2 years. Stream 2 applications accepted will receive a grant of $350,000 for “an end-to-end CubeSat project (2U or 3U)” over a maximum period of up to 3 years.

Opportunity Introduction

The CSA provided the following introduction to the new opportunity.

In 2017, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) launched the Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP), a Canada-wide initiative to provide postsecondary institutions across Canada with an opportunity to engage their students in a real space mission by designing, building, launching and operating a CubeSat in space. Hundreds of students from across the country participated in the CCP, which created numerous new collaborations and even generated a start-up company founded by a student. Perhaps most importantly, this unique experience helped propel numerous students to join the space workforce and to tackle the exciting opportunities that Canada’s space sector has to offer.

In view of this success, the CSA is renewing this opportunity to gain unique, hands-on experience by launching the CubeSats Initiative in Canada for STEM (CUBICS) AO. This initiative will once again allow hundreds of students to increase their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), acquire expertise in a wide variety of areas and develop invaluable skills to transition into the Canadian workforce.

Based on lessons learned from the CCP, the CSA has made some key improvements to better adapt the CUBICS initiative to student needs:

  • Two funding categories to reflect team readiness levels: Given the challenges of tackling a complex space project like the end-to-end development of a CubeSat, the CSA has created two streams for both entry-level and experienced teams: Stream 1 for standalone scientific payload projects, and Stream 2 for end-to-end CubeSat projects (described further in Section 3.2);
  • Strengthened science to increase student learning: Projects under Stream 2 (described further in Section 3.2) are required to collect science data through a real experiment. Applicants under Stream 1 and Stream 2 are also required to include, among their team members, students from a science faculty from their institution or from another postsecondary institution;
  • Research priorities: In line with the priorities of the CSA and of the Government of Canada, this AO could prioritize projects that aim at increasing our understanding of the causes and effects of climate change and/or will contribute to combating climate change;
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI): The CSA is committed to increasing the participation of underrepresented populations in Canada’s Space Program. An EDI plan is required as part of the evaluation criteria for this AO. Details regarding this criterion are provided in Section 5.2 and in Appendix C of the AO.
  • Recurrence: The CSA intends to make this opportunity a recurring initiative and to publish the next CUBICS AOs in 2025 and in 2027.

This AO is delivered under the terms and conditions of the CSA Class Grant and Contribution Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component.

The CUBICS funding opportunity is open for proposals until November 16, 2022.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

Leave a Reply