UNOOSA and JAXA Open 7th Round of the KiboCUBE Programme

A satellite being deployed from the Kibo on the ISS. Source: UNOOSA

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) launched the Access to Space for All Initiative in 2018. The Initiative aims at building capacity through opportunities in space research and space science data services. These services include micro and hypergravity experiments, space missions, and human spaceflight-related activities. In addition, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) developed the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo”. JAXA has been operating it since 2008.

Both UNOOSA and JAXA along with the government of Japan are pleased to announce the 7th round of the joint cooperation programme. The programme provides an opportunity for the orbital deployment of a CubeSat from the ISS Kibo. In line with the mission and objectives of the Access to Space for All Initiative and JAXA’s demonstrated commitment to promoting space science and technology in developing countries, the KiboCUBE cooperation programme will contribute to broadening space activities and applications and to capacity-building in space science and technology. 

This opportunity is open to entities located in developing economies and economies in transition that are member states of the United Nations. Furthermore, heads of research institutes, universities, and other public organizations are eligible to apply for this opportunity. However,  private companies, non-governmental or non-profitable agencies are ineligible. The programme particularly encourages entities resident in countries without satellites in orbit at the time of the opening of this application to apply. This will follow the information on the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

To assess eligibility, UNOOSA and JAXA will use the country classification list of developing economies and economies in transition indicated in the joint report, World Economic and Situation Prospects.  Entities applying for this opportunity are responsible for the development of their CubeSat. This includes the design, manufacturing, test and verification of their CubeSat, as well as its operation and utilisation after the deployment. Therefore, to be eligible for this opportunity, applying entities must have sufficient capability in the following areas, 

  • CubeSat design, manufacture, testing and operation;
  • Ability to transport the CubeSat to JAXA (planning, budget, export/import control etc.);
  • Preparation of safety review (submission of safety assessment reports etc.);
  • Ability to coordinate the radio frequency of the CubeSat internationally and obtain a license of radio stations for CubeSat in the country;
  • An ability to develop the ground station facility with radiofrequency license;
  • Ability to register the CubeSat to the Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space; and
  • Letter of endorsement from the head of the entity. 

The programme encourages diverse and balanced participation of different genders in teams as well as supervising positions. It also encourages the participation of persons with disabilities in the teams. 

Interested entities are to apply by completing an application form. Furthermore, interested teams must submit the application form by 31 December 2021. The programme will select and notify shortlisted candidates by the middle of February 2022. Subsequently, the programme will select and notify the winner on the 1st of July 2022. The application process consists of two stages, in the first stage, entities shall describe the cost elements of the CubeSat. If the entity is shortlisted, the entity will have 3.5 months to submit a detailed explanation of how it will acquire the budget.

Furthermore, there is a detailed webinar for the 7th Round application on 15th September 2021. In addition, applicants are required to attend the KiboCUBE Academy Season 2; however, a date has not been announced yet.

Previous beneficiaries of the KiboCUBE cooperation programme include Kenya’s “1KUNS-PF. A team from the University of Nairobi developed the satellite, Kenya’s first satellite. The satellite successfully deployed from Kibo in May 2018. It re-entered the atmosphere in June 2020 after having successfully completed more than ten thousand orbits. A year later, Mauritius became a beneficiary of the programme as its MIR-SAT 1 deployed from the KiboCUBE on the 22nd of June 2021. 

For more information, please visit UNOOSA’s website or read the Announcement Opportunity

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