2012.A.1.4 A Cost Estimating Methodology for Very Small Satellites


Mary Boghosian and Ricardo Valerdi (1)

  1. Aerospace Corporation


A.1 – Technology – System Issues for Interplanetary CubeSat Missions


Picosatellites, CubeSats, Cost Models


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.



  • No optional paper submitted

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