The QB50 mission will demonstrate the possibility of launching a network of 50 CubeSats built by Universities Teams all over the world as a primary payload on a low-cost launch vehicle to perform first-class science in the largely unexplored lower thermosphere.
Space agencies are not pursuing a multi-spacecraft network for in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere because the cost of a network of 50 satellites built to industrial standards would be extremely high and not justifiable in view of the limited orbital lifetime. No atmospheric network mission for in-situ measurements has been carried out in the past or is planned for the future. A network of satellites for in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere can only be realised by using very low-cost satellites, and CubeSats are the only realistic option.
QB50 invited universities worldwide to join the project and send a satellite to space. Numerous proposals have then been received and the CubeSats been selected. As a consequence the QB50 CubeSats will be designed and built by a great number of young engineers, supervised by experienced staff at their universities and guided by the QB50 project through reviews and feedback. Those engineers will not only learn about space engineering in theory but will leave their universities with hands-on experience.