In 2001, the University of Illinois began its cubesat program. The first mission was called ION-1 (Illinois Observing Nanosat-1). ION-1's primary mission was to measure oxygen airglow emissions in the Earth's mesophere. Additionally, ION-1 was testing a number of new technologies, such as a MicroVacuum Arc Thruster, and 3-axis magnetic torque attitude control; neither of which had flown on cubesats at the time. ION-1 was also the first 2U cubesat built and integrated into a launch vehicle. Unfortunately, in 2006, ION-1 was destroyed when its Dnepr launch vehicle failed during take-off and crashed.
Starting in 2006, under the working name 'ION-2' a second-generation Cubesat bus platform began development Unlike ION-1 which was a single-purpose satellite, ION-2 was developed as a scallable bus architecture. ION-2 can be any size between a 1.5-3U system, and all the extra space may be dedicated to the payload.
In 2009, to better distinquish the generic bus system from the missions, ION-2 was renamed 'IlliniSat-2'. IlliniSat-2 is new name for the generic bus system, while ION-2 may one day be a sequel science mission to the original ION-1 payload. For more information on either the IlliniSat-2 bus, or any of its current missions, please visit the rest of this website.