Length: 2 Days
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Introduction to CubeSat


Once considered an educational curiosity, CubeSats have steadily garnered more responsibility in the general realm of space exploration and use cases.

CubeSats are miniature satellites that have been used exclusively in low Earth orbit for 15 years, and are now being used for interplanetary missions as well.

NASA has been particularly active in CubeSats design and research objectives. NASA runs the extensive Small Spacecraft Technology Program as well as the CubeSat Launch Initiative. Previously selected CubeSats have studied near-Earth objects, space weather, Earth’s atmosphere and much more.

Scientists and organizations have discovered several benefits from deploying CubeSats, such as:

  • Fast: can be built within two years.
  • Cost: far less expensive than large satellites.
  • Technology: simple, standard parts available off-the-shelf.
  • Design: simple design for short mission; no need to use thermal blankets.
  • Space debris: none – they burn up in the atmosphere upon reentry.

CubeSats are put into orbit by deployers on the International Space Station, or launched as secondary payloads on a launch vehicle.

The electrical power system (EPS) consists of solar panels and batteries. Solar panels hold solar cells that convert the solar light from the sun to electricity. Batteries take up a lot of mass and volume on the already tightly packed CubeSat. A major design challenge is placing the solar panels, either on the sides of the CubeSat itself, or having deploying solar panels.

In L-band, CubeSats can take advantage of legacy communications networks such as Globalstar and Iridium by using network-specific transponders to relay information to and from Earth. These networks remove dependence on dedicated ground station equipment.

Because of their quick development time and easy access to space, CubeSats have become the perfect platform for demonstrating how a new technological advancement will perform in orbit.

Introduction to CubeSat Course by Tonex

Introductions to CubeSat is a 2-day covering the basic concepts and processes for
CubeSat analysis, design and developments. Participants will learn about the CubeSats or miniature satellites that have been used exclusively in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and can be used for exploring and interplanetary missions. In the beginning,    however, they were commonly used in low Earth orbit for applications such as remote sensing or communications.

Nanosatellites are loosely defined as any satellite weighing less than 10 kilograms. The basic design of a CubeSat is a 10-centimeter (4-inch) cube with a mass of less than 1.33 kilograms (2.93 lbs.). CubeSats can also be designed to encompass two, three or six 10-centimeter units for more complicated missions. CubeSats shall also comply with a series of specific criteria that control factors such as their shape, size and weight.


28 Dove CubeSats part of Planet Lab’s “Flock 1” constellation deployed into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) on Feb. 11, 2014.
(Image: © NASA)
What is a Nanosatellite?

The standard CubeSat unit, a cube-shaped structure measuring 10x10x10 centimetres, has with a mass of somewhere between 1 and 1.33 kg (AKA as 1U). This modular unit is now multiplied and larger nanosatellites such (1.5U, 2U, 3U or 6U).

Course Topics

Fundamentals of CubeSats

  • CubeSats Use Cases
  • Satellite Types
  • Satellite Types and the Mass
  • Large satellites: More than 1,000 kg
  • Medium-sized satellites: 500-1,000 kg
  • Small satellites
  • Minisatellite: 100-500 kg
  • Microsatellite: 10-100 kg
  • Nanosatellite: 1-10 kg
  • Picosatellite: Less than 1 kg
  • CubeSat Launch Initiatives
  • CubeSats System Survey
  • Mission Models
  • Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Rideshare
  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Rideshare
  • International Space Station (ISS) Deployment Mission Model
  • Commercial Launch Services
  • Structure
  • Computing
  • Attitude control
  • Propulsion
  • Power
  • Telecommunications
  • RF
  • Antennas
  • Antennas
  • Thermal management

CubeSat Architecture and Design

  • CubeSat Reference Architecture CubeSats Systems Engineering Design Process
  • Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) applied to CubeSats
  • System Inputs
  • Desired System Outputs
  • System Level Architecture
  • CubeSat RF Engineering
  • Antennas
  • Communication Protocols
  • Launch Vehicles
  • CubeSat Dispenser Systems
  • 3U Dispensers
  • 6U Dispensers
  • Launch Vehicles Rockets
  • Development Process Overview
  • Ground Station Design, Development, and Testing
  • CubeSat Software Design and Implementation
  • CubeSat Testing
  • CubeSat Hardware Fabrication and Testing
  • CubeSat Software Testing
  • Mission Readiness Reviews
  • CubeSat-to-Dispenser Integration and Testing
  • Mission Operations

CubeSat Design Specifications (CDS)        

  • Range Safety Requirements
  • Licensing Procedures
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Licensing
  • Remote Sensing
  • Flight Certification
  • Orbital Debris Mitigation Compliance
  • Transmitter Surveys
  • CubeSat Components
  • Materials List
  • Environment Testing (Vibration/Shock)
  • 693 Thermal Vacuum Bakeout Testing
  • Compliance
  • Safety and Reliability
  • CubeSat Verification and Validation (V&V)
  • Acceptance Checklists
  • Technical Reference Documents for CubeSat
  • Requirements Verification
  • CubeSat Cybersecurity Attacks and Mitigation

CubeSat Cybersecurity

  • Space Cybersecurity
  • CubeSat Networking, Systems, Technologies, Databases
  • CubeSat Defensive and Offensive Cybersecurity
  • CubeSats Vulnerabilities and Hackers
  • Securing Satellites and CubeSats
  • CubeSat Threat Models and Mitigation

CubeSat Case Study

  • Business Case for a CubeSat-based Earth Imaging Constellation
  • Tools to to Build a CubeSat
  • CubeSat cost and Components


Introduction to CubeSat

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