Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

iCubeSat 2012 A.1.P Technology – System Issues for Interplanetary CubeSat Missions – Q&A – Panel

June 23, 2012

iCubeSat 2012 A.1.P – Technology – System Issues for Interplanetary CubeSat Missions – Q&A – Panel

iCubeSat 2012 A.1.5 Understanding Technology S-Curve’s in The Exploration of The Solar System – Sean Murphy

June 23, 2012

Great Things Come in Small Packages. By changing the paradigm with the emphasis on alternate mission concepts for existing capabilities and on innovative mission concepts for new capabilities that are enabled by small spacecraft, hosted payloads, and/or integrated operations.


iCubeSat 2012.A.1.4 A Cost Estimating Methodology for Very Small Satellites – Mary Boghosian

June 23, 2012

This presentation summarizes an internal research and development effort at The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace) to create a methodology for estimating the cost of very small satellites, including picosats and CubeSats.

Costing methodologies for picosatellites are of particular interest due to the fact that none of the currently available cost methodologies are applicable to this range of satellites, yet the capabilities of smaller satellites are advancing, and their production and launch frequencies are increasing. We at Aerospace Corporation have realized this need and have engaged in developing a cost methodology to cover the small satellite mass range (<50kg-0.1kg).

Through literature search and interviews with subject matter experts involved in the development of small satellites, we derived a new approach for costing. We named this new approach the Aerospace PIcosatellite COst MOdel (A-PICOMO). This new methodology required development of Cost Drivers unique to very small satellites and the validation of the drivers with historical data from completed picosat projects. We identified and defined two categories of cost drivers, System Size Drivers, and System Cost Drivers or (Project Drivers) that help characterize the complexity and cost of picosats.

In addition to describing the results of our research, we will describe our approach in developing the new cost methodology and the outcome of our initial validation. This presentation will also discuss observations and lessons learned in costing such small satellites.


iCubeSat 2012 A.1.3 Interplanetary CubeSat System Design Challenges and Architectures – Austin Williams

June 23, 2012

The desire to utilize low cost, quick turn around CubeSats for interplanetary missions is an exciting challenge. There are three fundamental constraints to the system design that a long duration, interplanetary mission imposes: Power Generation, Volume, and Radiation. This talk will discuss the critical design decision between going RadHard vs COTS, and provide a comparison of their relative performance, and power requirements. A brief discussion on radiation effects on components will lead into a trade of several system architectures. It will be shown that the pace that modern mobile electronics are progressing, and performance per watt that they achieve makes a strong case for their utilization. Modern processors and memory provide the processing capability and storage, with a variety of “Sleep” modes for significant power savings. Several radiation tolerant system design techniques are discussed to enable COTS technology to survive long duration, interplanetary missions. The talk will end by proposing a mission that could provide enormously useful data points that can influence the design of technically ambitious CubeSat missions with high science value.


iCubeSat 2012 A.1.2 Identification and Evaluation of iCubeSat Mission Architectures – Mathew Zwack

June 23, 2012

Since the genesis of the CubeSat standard, the usage of CubeSats has become increasingly popular in commercial, military, and academic applications alike. CubeSats typically serve as cost effective test-beds and demonstrators for various in-space technologies in earth orbit. However, their low cost paradigm is beginning to extend into many other areas of satellite operations. With the advent of new technologies, the use of CubeSats for missions extending far beyond earth orbit can be realized. The first step towards the realization of interplanetary CubeSat (iCubeSat) missions is the identification and evaluation of candidate mission architectures. The idea of an iCubeSat is relatively new and it is, therefore, important to evaluate as many mission architectures as possible while avoiding the use of historical experience as a down-selection tool. This study uses various pre-conceptual level systems engineering techniques to identify and evaluate candidate architectures for a general iCubeSat mission. The architectures are assembled using a Morphological Matrix of Alternatives (MoA), and are then evaluated against a list of attributes using an Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Application of AHP allows for the use of qualitative data in performing a quantitative assessment, enabling a rapid evaluation of all the possible mission architectures that can be defined by the MoA. From this analysis, the Pareto optimal solutions are identified, providing insight into the driving trades that exist for the novel concept of iCubeSat missions. A method for identifying candidates from the Pareto optimal solutions for further study is presented using Multi-Attribute Decision Making (MADM) techniques to rank the architectures based upon a prioritization of mission objectives.

iCubeSat 2012.A.1.1 Interplanetary CubeSats: Some Missions Feasible Sooner than Expected – Robert Staehle

June 23, 2012

NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program selected Interplanetary CubeSats for further investigation, some results of which are reported. Interplanetary CubeSats enable small, low-cost missions beyond LEO. This class is defined by mass <~ 10 kg, cost < $30M, and durations up to 5 years. Over the coming decade, a stretch of six distinct technology areas, creating one overarching architecture, can enable comparatively low-cost Solar System exploration missions with capabilities far beyond those demonstrated in small satellites to date.


1. CubeSat electronics and subsystems extended to operate in the interplanetary environment (esp. radiation and duration of operation).

2. Optical telecommunications to enable very compact, low power uplink/downlink over interplanetary distances.

3. Solar sail propulsion to enable major maneuvers and rendezvous with multiple targets using no propellant.

4. Navigation of the Interplanetary Superhighway to enable multiple destinations over reasonable mission durations with achievable delta-V.

5. Small, highly capable instrumentation (such as a miniature imaging spectrometer) enabling acquisition of high-quality scientific and exploration information.

6. Onboard storage and processing of raw instrument data and navigation information to enable maximum utility of uplink and downlink telecom capacity, and minimal operations staffing.

When integrated, these technologies form the Interplanetary CubeSat Architecture.

Architecture: Interplanetary CubeSats build on the existing Earth-orbiting CubeSat architecture. Target spacecraft volume is 10 cm x 20 cm x 30 cm (6U). 2U are reserved for the mission-specific payload. The solar sail occupies 2U and deploys to form a 6 x 6 m or larger square. The solar sail is based on the Planetary Society/Stellar Exploration LightSail™ 1, plus electrochromic tips for attitude control. A 2-way optical communication terminal occupying 1U is based on JPL laser telecommunications developments, with a link capacity of 1 kbps @ 2 AU Earth-spacecraft distance. The final 1U is used for satellite housekeeping (C&DH, power, attitude determination) and based on CalPoly CP7 and JPL CubeSat On-board processing Validation Experiment (COVE) avionics.

Candidate missions: Though there are many different missions that would be possible with this architecture, the potential missions being researched under NIAC sponsorship are:

1. Mineral Mapping of Asteroids

2. Solar System Escape Technology Demonstration

3. Earth-Sun Sub-L1 Space Weather Monitor

4. Phobos Sample Return

5. Earth-Moon L2 Radio Quiet Observatory

6. Out-of-ecliptic Missions

Objectives and technology drivers of these missions are reported to illustrate the broad spectrum of missions enabled by advancing the CubeSat state-of-the-art beyond low Earth orbit.

iCubeSat 2012 K.1.1 Space Technology At NASA: Breadth, Depth, and a Small-Satellite Strategy – Mason Peck

June 8, 2012

NASA’s new Space Technology Program has funded more than 1,000 projects since its inception in 2011. These projects span the entire spectrum of technology readiness – from early-stage concepts to flight-demonstration hardware that will enable our future missions. Several new programs at NASA within Space Technology offer funding opportunities for innovators across the nation to develop small-satellite technologies: ELaNa, which provides launch opportunities for cubesats; Edison, which provides significant funding for in-orbit technology demonstrations; and a suite of early-stage innovation and game-changing development programs. In particular, the Edison SmallSat program helps to continue America’s leadership in space through the further development of this class of satellites–small, agile and relatively inexpensive spacecraft that could perform many tasks in science, exploration, operations, and commercial development of space in a way that has not been seen before.  These spacecraft represent a new opportunity for NASA to approach its diverse goals in science, exploration and education.  Encouraging the growth of small-spacecraft technology also benefits our economy.  Many of the technologies that enable small spacecraft come from the innovative world of small business, where commercial practices provide innovative and cost-effective solutions. Those technologies will continue to advance in performance as demand and competition drive companies to excel.