The team at Alén Space has been developing nanosatellites since 2008 under CubeSat standards, the result of a joint development project between California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University that got underway in 1999.

The original aim of the CubeSat project was to ensure affordable access to space for university researchers.

Over time, the programme was extended to include scientific and educational institutions around the world, as well as public initiatives in a number of countries and eventually also to private enterprise.

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Nanosatellites are loosely defined as any satellite weighing less than 10 kilograms. CubeSats must also comply with a series of specific criteria that control factors such as their shape, size and weight.

CubeSats can come in various sizes, but they are all based on the standard CubeSat unit, namely a cube-shaped structure measuring 10x10x10 centimetres with a mass of somewhere between 1 and 1.33 kg. This unit is known as 1U. 

After the first few years, this modular unit was multiplied and larger nanosatellites are now common (1.5U, 2U, 3U or 6U). Today, new configurations are under development.

Nanosatellite development based on CubeSat standards guarantees ongoing and relatively inexpensive access to space, as well as a wide range of launch and space rocket options.

CubeSat standardisation opens up the possibility of using commercial electronic parts and the choice of numerous technology suppliers, thereby considerably cutting the costs of CubeSat engineering and development projects in comparison with other types of satellites.


Menor tamaño

Precios más

Tiempos de desarrollo
más cortos

El ser humano consiguió situar en órbita terrestre sus primeros satélites artificiales, los modelos Sputnik de la URSS, en 1957. Desde entonces y hasta finales del siglo XX las grandes potencias mundiales, lideradas por sus gobiernos, lanzaron cientos de satélites, compitiendo en una carrera espacial por explorar el espacio con proyectos cada vez más grandes y complejos.

El primer Sputnik pesaba 80 kilos y el segundo, más de 500. A día de hoy, la Estación Espacial Internacional (ISS) tiene una masa de 420.000 kilos.

Durante mucho tiempo, la tecnología implantada en el espacio, cada vez es más grande y sofisticada, sólo estaba al alcance de las agencias espaciales de los países más desarrollados de la tierra o al servicio de las grandes empresas.

La filosofía del New Space es crear satélites de una manera más rápida y barata, gracias a los bajos costes y a la miniaturización cada vez mayor de los componentes electrónicos. Con los nanosatélites, lo que tradicionalmente estaba reservado a grandes compañías o agencias espaciales con gran capacidad de financiación, ahora se democratiza y pasa a ser accesible a empresas de todo tipo y tamaño.


Apart from their size and cost, the biggest advantage of a nanosatellite is the short time period required to develop each model. An average-sized or large satellite requires between 5 and 15 years to identify the need and place it in the right orbit under normal parameters.

So what are the implications of this? Well, between the start and end of operations, needs may well have changed, which means that the initially planned uses are no longer market-appropriate. What’s more, telecommunications technologies are constantly changing and being updated, which means that conventional satellites eventually end up operating with 15-year-old technologies. It is impossible to constantly update large satellites, which means that they cannot be modified even when a market or technology opportunity arises.

However, this is not the case of nanosatellites: it can take less than 8 months to detect a need and place them in orbit.

In addition to guarantees of redundancy and robustness, nanosatellite constellations provide a system in which the concepts of obsolescence or useful life are no longer an issue. The very nature of nanosatellites means that constellations are regularly renewed, ensuring a consistent state-of-the-art system, the result of ongoing technological upgrades.

This constant renewal ensures that the constellation owner can provide an optimum technological service at all times.

Less than 8 months of development

Nanosatellite Launch Procedure

Once the nanosatellite has been developed, tested and is ready for operations, it must be placed in orbit. There are currently multiple launch options for nanosatellites, including the shared use of government agency rockets, private company launchers or logistic links with the International Space Station (ISS).

CubeSats take up reduced amounts of volume and mass, making them easy to load onto spacecraft as well as a low cost solution.

Furthermore, the emergence of micro-launchers around the world, dedicated exclusively to placing small satellites in orbit, has forced the market to lower launch prices.


Órbaita polar

Satellites travel around the Earth in circular or elliptical orbits thanks to the balance between the gravitational and escape pull during launch. The absence of air means that there is no friction to alter the equation and they can remain in orbit practically indefinitely.

When a nanosatellite comes to the end of its operational life, it re-enters the atmosphere and disintegrates.

Low Altitude

As a general rule, nanosatellites are launched in low circular or elliptical orbits (altitudes of between 400 and 650 km) and travel at around 8 km per second. At this altitude and height, it takes them around 90 minutes to orbit the Earth, completing between 14 and 16 orbits a day. These conditions are ideal for nanosatellites.

By orbiting closer to the Earth, they not only guarantee optimum conditions for land observation or communications, but are also better protected from solar and cosmic radiation.


Since the first artificial object was placed in orbit around the Earth, back in 1957, humankind has launched thousands of satellites, although there are no reliable or complete records. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), more than 15,000 objects have been launched into outer space. However, this number does not only include satellites, but also probes, rockets and other devices. Due to the nanosatellite revolution, the number of objects will rise sharply over the coming years as the vast potential of Space Business unfolds.

What is a Nanosatellite Constellation?

Nanosatellites are groups of constellations that provide backing, redundancy and granularity for the services they provide. Each satellite within a constellation is renewed every 2-4 years, thereby guaranteeing that the operator will always have an optimised low risk service that receives ongoing technological upgrades.

Nanosatellite constellations are therefore systems in which the concepts of obsolescence or useful life are no longer an issue.


The beginning of this century saw the emergence of CubeSats, a new paradigm in the satellite industry. They are radically smaller than conventional satellites, resulting in lower costs, which offsets the reduced risk of failure and shorter useful life, which is nevertheless acceptable for numerous applications.

The special nature of nanosatellites does not prevent them from carrying out the same tasks as larger devices. The features naturally differ, but are sufficient for multiple industrial applications.

Earth Observation

Collecting and interpreting data is essential for the correct management of natural resources and developing sustainable economies.
Analysing human impact on agriculture, forest, geology and the environment is crucial in order to improve the population’s living conditions.

Communication and IoT

Nanosatellites have laid the foundations for developing the Internet of Things (IoT) on a global scale, connecting areas of the world without land communication cover via infrastructures in space.
There is a growing number of sensorised objects and networks requiring global connections and communications.

Geolocation and Logistics

Locating and handling assets (aircraft, ships, vehicles, etc.) can prove impossible or at best extremely costly in areas where there is no land cover. Located in space and offering a global vision, nanosatellite constellations can provide immediate monitoring of various asset groups anywhere on the planet.
Nanosatellites can complement current networks by providing complex logistic management solutions.

Signal Monitoring (SIGINT)

Nanosatellites can monitor radio signals transmitted from Earth. This means that in the event of a disaster, they can provide initial information regarding the degree of impact and the most seriously affected areas, allowing for more effective planning of rescue and relief work.

Scientific Applications

In addition to commercial solutions, CubeSats can also be used for space observation programmes, interplanetary missions, systems testing in orbit or biomedical research. They also represent a gateway for the development of space programmes in those countries that have not yet joined the space race.