Length: 2 Days
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Introduction to CubeSat

Introduction to CubeSat is a 2-day course that covers a wide range of topics related to CubeSats such as use cases, licensing procedures, launch vehicles and CubeSat components.


CubeSats are now commonly used in low Earth orbit for applications such as remote sensing and communications.

Commercial enterprises as well as universities have been very active in the CubeSats arena, but it’s NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that has turned to CubeSats for cutting edge space exploration.

In fact, according to NASA, CubeSats are at the forefront of helping redefine the way science is explored in space.

Some of the most elusive and important questions–from distant galaxies to our own planet’s climate–need to be solved with space-based instruments. But, the high cost of designing and launching traditional spacecraft is a hurdle that limits both what can be accomplished, and who can do it.

Small, modular, and inexpensive to build and launch, CubeSats are opening up space exploration like never before. They offer a new world of possibilities in research and technology development.

CubeSats are a class of mini satellites that are small as well as inexpensive. CubeSats have a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms per unit and often use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for their electronics and structure.

Additionally, the small, economical design of CubeSats has had a profound impact by broadening participation in space and providing hands-on educational opportunities.

CubeSats are more accessible to users beyond government agencies and commercial industries, who have historically been leaders in satellite development and launch. These nontraditional satellite users include:

  • Universities
  • Small countries
  • Citizen science groups
  • Hobbyists
  • Startups
  • Artists

Analysts contend that CubeSats’ role in broadening participation to space exploration has benefits for science as well as society as a whole.

Possibly the most important benefit of CubeSat technology is the way mini-satellites have involved public engagement. An example of this is how citizen scientists use CubeSats to conduct experiments of interest in space, including those that broaden our basic understanding of Earth itself.

In the commerce arena, CubeSats provide a cost-effective approach to provide a more comprehensive coverage of the Earth than larger, conventional satellites.

There’s also risk reduction for organizations. CubeSats usually operate in constellations, so the different satellites provide backup and redundancy to the services they offer. If a small satellite becomes unusable, for whatever reason, the project does not fail, but the other CubeSats can fill that gap while waiting for a replica to be placed in orbit to take the place of the damaged satellite. And all this in a very short period of time.

The DoD has also benefited from CubeSats. Just a couple of years ago the U.S. Missile Defense Agency used a pair of CubeSats to develop a system to track hostile ballistic and hypersonic missiles from launch to impact.

More CubeSat use cases are being planned by the DoD.

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.

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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