Hi and greetings from the structure and mechanism team.
First of all I want to show you a nice rendering of the current design of the satellite by which I can explain the main purpose of our team and our tasks. Furthermore I want to inform you about the general question what a cubesat is and why it was developed.
A cubesat is a very small satellite, build after the so called cubesat standard. Regarding this standard a cubesat consists of one or more units and has a standardized interface to a Deployer which is used to deploy the satellites once the launch vehicle reaches orbit.
Cubesat Deployer – Source: CubeSat Design Specification Rev. 13 by California Polytechnic State University
Mostly this is done as a secondary payload and the deployer is attached to the rocket carrying the main payload to orbit. On the way the cubesats are thrown out of the deployer and start orbiting the earth. Another way to get the satellites into orbit is to send them to the ISS using a cargo vehicle. Then they will be shot into orbit directly from a deployer on the ISS. One unit has a dimension of 10x10x10 cm with a mass of 1.33kg. It is possible to just attach these units together to get an even bigger picosatellite like a 3 unit cubesat. The standard was developed at the California Polytechnic State University to provide a standard design for picosatellites to reduce cost and development time, increase accessibility to space, and allow more frequent launches.
The first cubesat was launched in 2003 and since than the number of these little devices has exploded. There a more than hundreds of cubesats flying over your heads right now every day.
Due of the reduced costs compared to a normal satellites even relatively small companies can build a number of cubesats or even whole constellations and use them for commercial purposes.
The primary goal of the cubesat standard is to provide facilities like universities, high schools and private firms an easy, cheap, and fast access to space especially for small payloads. A great advantage of this project is the huge development of knowledge for students and the possibility to work on a real project to design, build and operate a satellite.
Even though a cubesat is very small compared to typical satellites, it needs the same systems to fulfill the same functions. Therefore it is still quite a hard task to design such a high integrated and complex system.
That’s it for our first update. In the coming weeks we will talk more about our satellite structure and the deployment mechanisms we are developing.