The Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) CubeSat spacecraft is in orbit and operational, said NASA and The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California on Monday.

CubeSats are going to play a key role in exploration, technology demonstration, scientific research and educational investigations. They provide a low-cost platform for NASA missions, including planetary space exploration, Earth observations, fundamental Earth and space science.

"Technology demonstration missions like OCSD are driving exploration," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC."By improving the communication capability of small spacecraft to support data-intensive science missions, OCSD will advance the potential to become a more viable option for mission planners," he said in a statement.

CubeSats also allow an inexpensive means to engage students in all phases of satellite development, operation and exploitation through real-world, hands-on research and development experience.OCSD is the first in a new series of six NASA-managed technology demonstration missions set to be launched during the coming months using CubeSats.

The second OCSD mission is scheduled to be launched in February 2016.


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