Lockheed Martin LINUSS CubeSats are ready to upgrade satellites in space

Lockheed Martin has announced that its In-Space Upgrade Satellite System (LINUSS) is ready to be launched into space. These CubeSats are designed to upgrade existing satellites, adding new capabilities while extending the lifespan and usefulness of the satellites. The LINUSS CubeSats are described as demonstration units.

Lockheed has developed two LM 50 12U CubeSats called LINUSS; each unit is, according to the company, around the size of a toaster that holds four slices of bread. Both satellites are designed to demonstrate the use of CubeSats — a type of small satellite — as an effective way to upgrade satellites that are already in space.

The mission is focusing on the LM 2100 upgradeable satellite bus platforms, the company revealed, and it'll kick things off with the GPS IIIF Space Vehicle 13. As of August 10, Lockheed said that its CubeSat system wrapped up environmental testing, meaning they're ready to launch sometime in 2021.

The company claims its LINUSS satellites will be among the "most capable" CubeSats sent into geosynchronous Earth orbit. This launch will be used to demonstrate this upgrade technology while validating "essential maneuvering capabilities," Lockheed explained this week.

A number of technologies will be demonstrated during this mission, paving the way for future satellite servicing and upgrade missions. Lockheed is no stranger to launching small satellites — according to the company, it has deployed more than 150 of these tiny spacecraft since the late 1990s.