From Cradle to Grave – My RainCube Story

Me with the RainCube Flight Radar, 2017

While celebrating my 10 year work anniversary at JPL earlier this year (Feb 2021), I serendipitously was saying farewell to a project and team I had been managing for the past five years. RainCube, which stands for Radar in a CubeSat, is an Earth Science mission that successfully demonstrated the first active radar on a CubeSat. In 2015, when I started leading a feasibility study for the RainCube mission concept, radars and CubeSats were somewhat of an oxymoron. CubeSats are miniature satellites with modest capabilities compared to traditional satellites, and traditional space radars require a lot of satellite resources (power, mass, volume, etc.). Fortunately, CubeSat technologies were quickly advancing while the development of a miniaturized radar at JPL was showing a lot of promise. This ultimately led to a competed mission proposal and selection by NASA and the beginning of my five year journey as the RainCube Project Manager.