Project Overview

Picture of VTC CubeSat

The goal of the CubeSat Lunar Lander project is to explore the technologies required for building a viable CubeSat device that can orbit and/or land on the moon. This project's predecessor was the Alaskan Ice Buoy Project which assisted in learning about the CubeSat Kit hardware that is also being used in this project.

We have built a single CubeSat to test the navigation components we would use to go to the Moon. Our CubeSat was launched as part of NASA's ELaNa IV program on the Air Force ORS-3 mission. The launch vehicle was an Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 rocket launched from Wallops Island, VA, on November 19, 2013. Click for launch video.

The VTLunar Blog gives up-to-the-minute information about what we are doing and also contains some additional pictures.

Tracking Information

Amateur Radio Operators who would like to track our CubeSat should email any packets received to Our down link frequency is 437.305 MHz, 9600 baud, FSK, AX.25. Our current TLE (April 17, 2014, updated as we get new tracking data). We appear to be International Designation: 2013-064AD also cataloged as NORAD: 39407U:

      1 39407U 13064AD  14107.35505345  .00023816  00000-0  87600-3 0  1064
      2 39407 040.5248 104.3659 0006566 228.2939 131.7242 15.27290659 20372

Photo Gallery

Here is a picture of the Minotaur 1 rocket being launched from Wallops Island, VA, and carrying our CubeSat to orbit.

Picture of VTC CubeSat launch

Here is the first photo of the Earth downloaded and assembled by Bill McGrath of LED Dynamics. It is of the North coast of Western Australia, looking towards Port Hedland.

Picture of western Australia taken from the VTC CubeSat

Here is the second downloaded photo of clouds over the ocean.

Picture of clouds taken from the VTC CubeSat

Here is the third downloaded photo of Yarra Yarra Lakes, Mongers Lake, Lake Moore and Lake Austin. North of Perth in Western Australia.

Picture of western Australia taken from the VTC CubeSat

Here is a photo of the cloud covered edge of the Earth.

Picture of clouds taken from the VTC CubeSat

Other Data

Here is some Inertial Measurement Unit data downloaded from the CubeSat on March 6, 2014 (plots by

Graph of IMU data
Graph of IMU data

First contact, 90 minutes after launch, from the parking lot at Wallops Island, with an Arrow antenna, Funcubedongle+ and Macbook, by Justin Foley (Cal Poly).


News Coverage


This project is supported by grants from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium, a part of the NASA Space Grant program, NASA and EPSCoR. Vermont Technical College has also received generous donations of commercial software from AdaCore, SofCheck, Altran, and Rowley Associates to support using high integrity software tools and methods in the programming of the system.

Software to analyze orbits of our spacecraft has been supplied as a generous donation by AGI of their Systems Tool Kit.

This project built upon our previous Arctic Sea Ice Buoy project.