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Cislunar Explorers



The Cislunar Explorers are a pair of L-shaped cubesats designed as an engineering demonstration mission to test the viability of using water as a propellant on a cubesat-sized spacecraft. It will also be testing the use of interplanetary optical navigation for small spacecraft. Initially planned as a secondary satellite on the first Artemis mission, launch plans are currently uncertain.

The Cislunar Explorers are two virtually identical L-shaped cubesats. Each cube has a titanium water tank with internal electrolyzers the botton of the "L". Power is provided by solar panels, which also contain embedded antennas. A propulsion nozzle is mounted on a combustion chamber, which is connected to the water tank through a check valve and flame arrester. Each cubesat carries 3 small cameras.

The Cislunar Explorers will launch as ride-on satellites, details TBD. The two satellites will be attached in a 6U rectangular configuration (10 x 20 x 30 cm) at launch. After deployment, the two Cislunar Explorers will separate, forced apart by a spring mechanism that also imparts a rotation to both spacecraft. The water in the tanks is electrolyzed using power from the solar panels, and the resulting hydrogen and oxygen gas kept separate from the water by the spacecraft rotation. Optical navigation will also be tested during the flight.

Image credit: Cornell University

Alternate Names

  • CislunarExplorers

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 
Launch Vehicle: 
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (United States)


  • Navigation/Global Positioning
  • Engineering

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



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