NASA's Artemis 1 mission launched 10 cubesats. Here's how they're doing

Artist's conception of BioSentinel, one of the confirmed operational Artemis 1 cubesats.
A small satellite with four solar panels floats in space. (Image credit: NASA/Daniel Rutter)

Some of the Artemis 1 mission's cubesats are thriving after launching on a moon mission on Nov. 16, but a handful are struggling in deep space.

Artemis 1, the first flight of the Artemis program, launched early in Wednesday morning (Nov. 16). NASA's massive Space Launch System rocket successfully sent an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a journey to the moon, along with a clutch of cubesats aiming to perform various science missions in deep space.

As of Nov. 18, NASA officials confirmed ArgoMoon, Biosentinel, Equuleus, LunaH-Map, and OMOTENASHI were all operational, although OMOTENASHI is experiencing problems in the days since and might have met its last chance to check in with Earth, according to one of the scientists on the mission. Most of the other spacecraft have also checked in since then, although some are experiencing problems.

In photos: Amazing views of NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket debut

NASA recharged some of the batteries on the cubesats after a September rollback of the Artemis 1 stack to shelter during a hurricane, but could not reach all of them due to design or access issues (the cubesats would have had to be removed, further delaying the launch). 

The agency has not provided an official update on which cubesats were or were not recharged, although space watchers have been discussing the possibilities in social media and on forums (opens in new tab) based on any information they could gather from people involved in the various missions.

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Spectacular imagery, however, is already flowing in from ArgoMoon showing both the moon and the Earth, according to tweets from the official account.

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EQUULEUS and Luna-H-Map were both on track for their lunar flybys, their official Twitter accounts said the last time each updated.

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Lunar IceCube was confirmed as healthy after deployment on Nov. 17, according to the official Twitter account.

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The CubeSat to study Solar Particles (CuSP) has been checking in regularly with NASA's Deep Space Network since launching, according to a Twitter update from a person working at one of the dishes in Canberra, Australia.

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Other spacecraft are struggling, however, and have not made contact with Earth since launching.

OMOTENASHI is past its expected deadline to check in for an expected moon landing and its status remains uncertain at this time.

Terran Orbital, which runs the LunIR spacecraft, has not provided an update on its deployment since launch on Nov. 16. Reports from users on Twitter suggest that the spacecraft may be experiencing anomalies after launching to space.

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Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout has also been silent since launching, although efforts are ongoing to recover it with NASA's Deep Space Network of antenna dishes.

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Radio communications also have not yet been established for the citizen scientist cubesat Team Miles, according to people on Twitter listening in for the CubeSats.

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Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace