On Monday 5 October two small satellites (CubeSats), designed and built in Denmark, were released from the International Space Station to begin their mission in space: the student-built AAUSay-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3.

New radio technology being demonstrated by GomX-3 will support the tracking of civil aircraft and measuring telecom satellite signal quality. AAUSat-5 will demonstrate the tracking of ships on the open sea. The AAUSat-5 and GomX-3 are the first ESA CubeSat projects to be launched from the International Space Station.

CubeSats, measuring 10 by10 by 10 cm, or multiples of it, are gaining increasing popularity. They are cheaper and faster than conventional satellites for demonstrating miniaturized technology in space.

CubeSats are also an excellent way for university students to gain experience in the full lifecycle of a space project, from design to launch and operations. Since 2012 the ESA Education programme has been engaging students across Europe through the Fly Your Satellite! initiative. ESA mentors the students throughout their CubeSat project, transfers expert knowhow and provides launch opportunities.