The ISS sends a few mini-experiments on their way.


Behold three CubeSats launched from the International Space Station, aka The Mothership. Future ISS commander Chris Hatfield tweeted the photo this morning, calling it (accurately) "surreal." Two other CubeSats were launched from the ISS, as well. They were all part of a technology demonstration by the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

The CubeSat program has been a cheap way for researchers at universities and elsewhere to fly experiments in orbit without paying for a whole launch themselves. The tiny satellites are only about 4" on a side, so they can be piggybacked on larger missions. That means the total cost of a CubeSat can be kept under $100,000. 

The basic tech was developed at Cal Poly and Stanford in the late 1990s, and roughly 75 of the cute little guys have made it into space.

Via Tim Maly