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ION (satellite)

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ION (satellite)

The Illinois Observing Nanosatellite (ION) is the first CubeSat mission developed by the students of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The satellite was lost in the failure of the Dnepr-1 launch on 26 July 2006. Completed in April 2005 as a part of the Illinois Tiny Satellite Initiative,[1] the satellite took almost four years to be designed, built and tested by an interdisciplinary team of student engineers.[2] The payloads included a photometer, a micro-thruster and a camera.

Mission objectives

The science and technology objectives of the ION-1 mission were aimed at advancing key enabling technologies for CubeSats:[3]

  1. Measurement of oxygen intensity in Earth's ionosphere to understand how energy transfers occur across large regions
  2. Test the MicroVacuum Arc Thruster (µVAT), a versatile small satellite propulsion technology for lateral movement and fine-control of attitude
  3. Test the SID processor board designed specifically for small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO)
  4. Test a small CMOS camera for Earth imaging
  5. Demonstrate attitude stabilization on a CubeSat

Future missions at UIUC

ION-1 was built using the IlliniSat-1 bus. The upgraded IlliniSat-2 bus is now under development for missions such as Lower Atmosphere Ionosphere Coupling Experiment (LAICE) and the CubeSail, both to be launched in 2016.[4]


  1. ^ [1] ITSI Initiative (CubeSat @ UofI), retrieved 11 January 2014.
  2. ^ [2] IlliniSat-2, retrieved 11 January 2014.
  3. ^ [3] ION Information Sheet, retrieved 11 January 2014.
  4. ^ [4] NASA to launch two satellites developed by Illinois faculty, retrieved 17 October 2014
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