The competition heats up: When it launches its next Mars mission, a stationary lander, NASA will piggyback two cubesats, designed to fly past Mars and relay communications during the landing.
As I’ve noted earlier, standardized small cubesats are the future of unmanned satellite operations. Expect them to increasingly replace all types of larger satellites. And because they are small and cheap (both to make and launch), expect them to lead to a burst of new capitalistic activity in space.
Update: In related news, a small private company has delivered to NASA the first thrusters designed for cubesats. Up until now, cubesats have not been maneuverable. These thrusters will change that.