Small Missions

  • Released Thursday, August 10th, 2023


Not every NASA mission is the size and cost of Hubble or Webb. Many important instruments and missions are quite small and use less expensive methods to reach space or even simply get above most of the atmosphere.

Sounding Rockets

Sounding rockets carry scientific instruments into space along a parabolic trajectory. Their overall time in space is brief, typically 5-20 minutes, and at lower vehicle speeds for a well-placed scientific experiment.


Balloons have been used for decades to conduct scientific studies. They can be launched from locations across the globe and are a low-cost method to carry payloads with instruments that conduct scientific observations.


CubeSats are a class of nanosatellites that use a standard size and form factor. CubeSats now provide a cost effective platform for science investigations, new technology demonstrations and advanced mission concepts using constellations, swarms disaggregated systems.