Cosmic X-ray Background Nanosatellite
Mission typeX-ray astronomy
COSPAR ID2012-048E[1]
SATCAT no.38762Edit this on Wikidata
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type2U CubeSat
Dry mass2.6kg[1]
Dimensions10 x 10 x 20cm[2]
Start of mission
Launch dateSeptember 13, 2012 (2012-09-13)[3]
RocketAtlas V 401
Launch siteVAFB Launch Complex 3[2]
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Deployed fromPoly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer
End of mission
Last contactJanuary 2013 (2013-01)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Periapsis altitude460 kilometres (290 mi)
Apoapsis altitude770 kilometres (480 mi)
Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) array
CXBN-2 →

Cosmic X-ray Background Nanosatellite (CXBN) was a satellite and mission developed by the Morehead State University. Unlike its successor, it was a partial failure as its transmissions were too weak for its mission due to it going into an anomalous low power mode.[1] It was supposed to take measurements of the cosmic X-ray background in the 30-50 keV range and temporarily supplement NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes.[4]


CXBN was created as a low-cost CubeSat platform to observe the extragalactic cosmic X-ray background and take improved measurements. It had a new gamma ray detector system with its CZT array, which would have potentially provided insight into the early universe's physics.


The CXBN CubeSat occupied a volume of 10 × 10 × 20 cm (3.9 × 3.9 × 7.9 in) when in its compact form. It had four deployable solar panels. Morehead State University (MSU) engineered its subsystems, while the CZT detector was designed by the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It also contained Sun sensors for its spin stabilization.[2]


CXBN contained a Cadmium Zinc Telluride array to allow for the mapping of the cosmic X-ray background.[2]

Launch and mission

CXBN was launched on September 13, 2012 (2012-09-13)[3] along with several other nanosatellites as part of NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program on an Atlas V 401 rocket. It was also the 35th launch of the NROL program with a main satellite payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.[4]

MSU provided support for ground operations with its 21m Space Tracking Antenna.[2]

CXBN decayed from orbit and re-entered the atmosphere on January 2013 (2013-01). It did not complete its science mission due to an anomaly causing it to go to low power mode.[3] The signal-to-noise ratio was too low, preventing the ground station from collecting enough data.[5]



  1. ^ a b c "CXBN 1, 2 (Unbridled Spirit)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e "CXBN". Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  3. ^ a b c Kulu, Erik. "CXBN @ Nanosats Database". Nanosats Database. Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  4. ^ a b "CUBESAT ELaNa VI LAUNCH ON L-36 Mission" (PDF). (PDF). 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2021-12-06.
  5. ^ Jacklin, Stephen A. (March 2019). "Small-Satellite Mission Failure Rates" (PDF). (PDF). p. 32. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-05-20. Retrieved 2021-12-07.