Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3)
Cue3 prototype.jpg
Prototype of CU-E3
Mission typeTechnology
OperatorUniversity of Colorado Boulder
Mission duration1 year (planned)
Distance travelled27 million km (planned)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftEarth Escape Explorer
Spacecraft type6U CubeSat
BusXB1 (Blue Canyon Technologies)
ManufacturerUniversity of Colorado Boulder
Launch mass14 kg (31 lb)
Dimensions10×20×30 cm
Start of mission
Launch date2021[1]
RocketSLS Block 1
Launch siteKennedy LC-39B
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric (Earth-trailing)
Flyby of Moon
BandUplink: C band}
Downlink: X band
FrequencyC band: 5182 MHz
X band: 8447.6 MHz[2]
Capacity13 bit/s (at 27 million km[2])
EIRP108 dBm [2]

Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3) is a nanosatellite of the 6-Unit CubeSat format that will demonstrate long-distance communications while in heliocentric orbit.[3]

The Earth Escape Explorer spacecraft is a student-driven effort at University of Colorado Boulder to design and build the spacecraft as part of the NASA CubeQuest Challenge. It will be one of thirteen CubeSats to be carried with the Artemis 1 mission into a heliocentric orbit in cislunar space on the maiden flight of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, scheduled to launch in 2019.[4]


The CU-E3 team is pursuing four different CubeQuest prizes: Largest aggregate data volume; most error-free data blocks; the most distant communications from Earth; and spacecraft longevity.[5]


Once deployed in the vicinity of the Moon, CU-E3 will use a lunar gravity assist to propel itself into heliocentric orbit, trailing the Earth and slowly distancing itself over time.[3] By the end of its one-year mission, CU-E3 is planned to be as far as 27 million kilometers from Earth.[3] The spacecraft will use a commercial 6U CubeSat satellite body (bus) called XB1, measuring about 10×20×30 cm. The mass is about 14 kg (31 lb).[6] Electric power will be provided by solar panels and stored in rechargeable lithium batteries.


The mission is focused upon advancing deep space CubeSat communication techniques using an innovative reflective array antenna, an X band transmitter for downlink and a C band transmitter for uplink.[2][3][5] The antenna array is "planar", meaning all of the elements are in one plane, yet provide a large aperture for beam steering and make possible high data rates.[5] ATLAS Ground Networks will be the ground station for their uplink and downlink communications.[5] Their telecomm package is called High-Rate CubeSat Communication System (HRCCS).[2]


CU-E3 does not feature an on board propulsion system, and will be using solar radiation pressure for reaction wheel desaturation and attitude control (orientation).[5]

See also

The 13 CubeSats flying in the Exploration Mission 1


  1. ^ "NASA's large SLS rocket unlikely to fly before at least late 2021". 17 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e A Deep Space Radio Communications Link for Cubesats: The CU-E3 Communication Subsystem. John S. Sobtzak, Elie G.Tianang, Varun Joshi, Breana M. Branham, Neeti P. Sonth, Michael DeLuca, Travis Moyer, Kyle Wislinsky, and Scott E. Palo. University of Colorado Boulder. 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d CU Earth Escape Explorer. University of Colorado Boulder. 2017.
  4. ^ Anderson, Gina; Porter, Molly (8 June 2017). "Three DIY CubeSats Score Rides on NASA's First Flight of Orion, Space Launch System". NASA.
  5. ^ a b c d e Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: CU-E3. Colorado Space News. 2017.
  6. ^ CU-E3. Gunter Dirk Krebs, Gunter's Space Page. 2017.