This answer to the question How often do reaction wheels require desaturation, normally? says:

One practical example I know of is for a 6U in GEO that is always sun pointed, there's a thruster desaturation once a week. (not enough magnetic field to use magnetorquers)

I can't tell if this is a simulation or real data from an actual cubesat in GEO. So I thought I'd start by simply asking Have there ever been cubesats in GEO?


2 Answers 2


As of June 2023, there are two operational cubesats in GEO.

AFRL Ascent and GS-1 incorporating payloads Nusantara H-1A and OrbitGuard-1. Ascent was launched in 2021 and GS-1 launched in May 2023.


enter image description here


Ascent is a mission to demonstrate various CubeSat operations in geostationary orbit (GEO).

AFRL awarded a second contract for BCT to build, test and deliver a 12U-CubeSat bus for the Ascent mission. AFRL provided and integrated the Ascent payload with BCT’s 12U spacecraft bus.

Ascent’s mission has been to evaluate the performance of COTS technology, in the GEO space environment, where satellites match the Earth’s rotation.

Ascent completed its mission in October 2022.




enter image description here


The 55-pound (25-kilogram) Gravity Space GS-1 satellite separated from the Falcon Heavy. It's the first commercial CubeSat-based craft to fly in geostationary orbit.

GS-1 will secure orbital slot reservations and perform a rendezvous/docking experiment.


This is also providing hosting services for the payloads Nusantara H-1A, OrbitGuard-1.

(So in some cases it would look like 3 cubesats are in GEO orbit but it is just GS-1 with 2 additional but separate payloads)

So currently it looks like there are 2 cubesats in GEO.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ So, at the time the question was asked, no, but 2 years later a first CubeSat got to GEO. $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Jun 23 at 21:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ yep, and next year there'll be another 6 added... $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ @blobbymcblobby since the spaceflight-firsts tag is present, I wonder if it is possible to label AFRL Ascent in 2021 as the first? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 23 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - yes, i would certainly agree, with AFRL being a demonstrator for that tech operating in GEO. And with GS-1 particularly noted as the first 'commercial' CubeSat in GEO, that would make sense. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 at 23:38

tl;dr As of June 2019, there are zero CubeSats in GEO

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a great database of satellites orbiting the Earth, the smallest satellite that they have in GEO orbit is the S5 smallsat launched by the ARFL, it has a launch weight of 60kg definitely in the smallsat range but much bigger than the largest CubeSats.

Bonus! Here are some histograms of the mass of satellites in different orbits:

LEO mass histogram

MEO mass histogram

GEO mass histogram

Elliptical mass histogram

  • $\begingroup$ Does your source have mass vs volume or U-number statistics? Cubesat mass density (kg/U) statistics? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 4, 2019 at 10:11
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh, it does not; however, you might be able to merge the UCS database data with the nanosats database to get an updated plot. That seems like it would make a great followup question! $\endgroup$
    – Mark Omo
    Jun 4, 2019 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh a cubesat was launched in 2021 $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 10:25

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