Special Issue "Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts"

A special issue of Aerospace (ISSN 2226-4310). This special issue belongs to the section "Astronautics & Space Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Vaios Lappas
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, Cranfield University, Bedford MK430AL, UK
2. Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Patras, Patras 265 04, Greece
Interests: small satellites; launchers; GNC

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Small satellites have become important tools for past and future space missions and applications. The advent of microelectronics, materials, and the availability of low-cost launch options has popularized small satellites more than ever. Capitalizing on new ideas and more frequent and affordable launch access, small satellite technologies are experiencing a renaissance, with new propulsion systems, thrusters, actuators, sensors, radiofrequency technologies (antennas, systems) being some examples of high growth space technology areas making new mission concepts (e.g., mega-constellations) a reality.

This Special Issue on small satellite technologies focuses on the development of hardware, software, algorithms, and novel techniques for small satellite subsystems, components, and platforms, which are pushing the boundaries of current knowledge and capabilities. In addition, contributions are invited on new mission concepts for commercial and scientific purposes that use small satellite technologies/platforms. Earth-focused missions, constellation concepts, and interplanetary missions are all topics currently being explored in various institutional, commercial, and academic environments, and papers are sought detailing advances in orbit experiences as well as novel ideas for future implementation.

Prof. Dr. Vaios Lappas
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Aerospace is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • small satellites
  • mission concepts
  • constellations
  • actuators
  • sensors
  • components
  • subsystems
  • earth observation
  • interplanetary missions

Published Papers (6 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
InnoCube—A Wireless Satellite Platform to Demonstrate Innovative Technologies
Aerospace 2021, 8(5), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace8050127 - 04 May 2021
Viewed by 487
Abstract
A new innovative satellite mission, the Innovative CubeSat for Education (InnoCube), is addressed. The goal of the mission is to demonstrate “the wireless satellite”, which replaces the data harness by robust, high-speed, real-time, very short-range radio communications using the SKITH (SKIpTheHarness) technology. This [...] Read more.
A new innovative satellite mission, the Innovative CubeSat for Education (InnoCube), is addressed. The goal of the mission is to demonstrate “the wireless satellite”, which replaces the data harness by robust, high-speed, real-time, very short-range radio communications using the SKITH (SKIpTheHarness) technology. This will make InnoCube the first wireless satellite in history. Another technology demonstration is an experimental energy-storing satellite structure that was developed in the previous Wall#E project and might replace conventional battery technology in the future. As a further payload, the hardware for the concept of a software-based solution for receiving signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) will be developed to enable precise position determination of the CubeSat. Aside from technical goals this work aims to be of use in the teaching of engineering skills and practical sustainable education of students, important technical and scientific publications, and the increase of university skills. This article gives an overview of the overall design of the InnoCube. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Spectral Correlation for Signal Presence Detection and Frequency Acquisition of Small Satellites
Aerospace 2021, 8(2), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace8020057 - 22 Feb 2021
Viewed by 634
Abstract
Challenges in interference-limited satellite detection arising from the low-earth orbit (LEO) and the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency bands are addressed. In particular, a novel signal presence detector based on cyclostationary signal properties is proposed and analyzed for a low signal-to-noise-plus-interference ratio [...] Read more.
Challenges in interference-limited satellite detection arising from the low-earth orbit (LEO) and the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency bands are addressed. In particular, a novel signal presence detector based on cyclostationary signal properties is proposed and analyzed for a low signal-to-noise-plus-interference ratio (SINR) regime. The performance of the proposed detector, which is applicable to various small-satellite scenarios, is evaluated on both simulated and real-world measurement data. This measurement data has been collected from the scientific satellite mission “Picosats Realizing Orbital Propagation Calibrations using Beacon Emitters” (PROPCUBE). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Novel 3U Stand-Alone CubeSat Architecture for Autonomous Near Earth Asteroid Fly-By
Aerospace 2021, 8(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace8010009 - 30 Dec 2020
Viewed by 893
Abstract
The purpose of this work is to present a novel CubeSat architecture, aimed to explore Near Earth Asteroids. The fast growth in small satellite commercial-off-the-shelf technologies, which characterized the last decade of space industry, is exploited to design a 3U CubeSat able to [...] Read more.
The purpose of this work is to present a novel CubeSat architecture, aimed to explore Near Earth Asteroids. The fast growth in small satellite commercial-off-the-shelf technologies, which characterized the last decade of space industry, is exploited to design a 3U CubeSat able to provide a basic scientific return sufficient to improve the target asteroid dataset. An overview of the current available technologies for each subsystem is presented, followed by a component selection driven by the mission constraints. First a typical asteroid fly-by mission is introduced together with the system and performance requirements. Then each characterizing subsystem is critically analyzed, and the proposed configuration is presented, showing the mission feasibility within only 3.9 kg of wet mass and 385 m/s of total ΔV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Trajectory Design of Perseus: A CubeSat Mission Concept to Phobos
Aerospace 2020, 7(12), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace7120179 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1042
Abstract
The Martian satellites Phobos and Deimos hold many unanswered questions that may provide clues to the origin of Mars. These moons are low Δv stopover sites to Mars. Some human missions to Mars typically identify Phobos and Deimos as staging bases for Mars surface exploration. Astronauts could base initial operations there in lieu of repeated voyages to and from the planet surface, to refuel transiting spacecraft, to teleoperate robotics and other critical machinery, and to develop habitable infrastructure ahead of human landings. Despite their strategic and scientific significance, there has been no successful dedicated mission to either moon. For this reason, we propose Perseus, a geological imaging CubeSat mission to Phobos. Perseus, a 27U, 54kg CubeSat will return thermal and visible images at resolutions better than currently available over most of Phobos’ surface. This includes visible images at 5m/pixel and thermal images at 25m/pixel of Phobos’ surface. The Perseus mission is nominally intended to be a co-orbital mission, where the spacecraft will encounter Phobos on its Martian orbit. However, a hyperbolic rendezvous mission concept, to image Phobos on a hyperbolic flyby, is also considered to reduce the risks associated with orbit capture and to reduce mission costs. This paper presents the preliminary feasibility, science objectives, and technological development challenges of achieving these science goals. We then formulate two rendezvous concepts as a series of three nonlinear optimization problems that span the design tree of mission concepts. The tree’s root node is the heliocentric cruise problem, which identifies the near-optimal launch and arrival windows for the Perseus spacecraft. The leaf nodes of the design tree are the two rendezvous concepts that identify near-optimal co-orbital and hyperbolic trajectories for Phobos’ reconnaissance. The design problems are solved using evolutionary algorithms, and the performance of the selected mission concepts is then examined. The results indicate that a co-orbital encounter allows about one encounter per day with about 6 min per encounter. The hyperbolic encounter, on the other hand, allows a single encounter where the spacecraft will spend about 2 min in the imaging region with respect to Phobos. The spacecraft will obtain higher resolution images of Phobos on this feasible region than have ever been seen for most of the surface. These detailed images will help identify candidate landing sites and provide critical data to derisk future surface missions to Phobos. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Automated Design of CubeSats using Evolutionary Algorithm for Trade Space Selection
Aerospace 2020, 7(10), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace7100142 - 28 Sep 2020
Viewed by 987
Abstract
The miniaturization of electronics, sensors, and actuators has enabled the growing use of nanosatellites for earth observation, astrophysics, and even interplanetary missions. This rise of nanosatellites has led to the development of an inventory of modular, interchangeable commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) components by a multitude [...] Read more.
The miniaturization of electronics, sensors, and actuators has enabled the growing use of nanosatellites for earth observation, astrophysics, and even interplanetary missions. This rise of nanosatellites has led to the development of an inventory of modular, interchangeable commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) components by a multitude of commercial vendors. As a result, the capability of combining subsystems in a compact platform has considerably advanced in the last decade. However, to ascertain these spacecraft’s maximum capabilities in terms of mass, volume, and power, there is an important need to optimize their design. Current spacecraft design methods need engineering experience and judgements made by of a team of experts, which can be labor intensive and might lead to a sub-optimal design. In this work we present a compelling alternative approach using machine learning to identify near-optimal solutions to extend the capabilities of a design team. The approach enables automated design of a spacecraft that requires developing a virtual warehouse of components and specifying quantitative goals to produce a candidate design. The near-optimal solutions found through this approach would be a credible starting point for the design team that will need further study to determine their implementation feasibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Design and Structural Analysis of a Control Moment Gyroscope (CMG) Actuator for CubeSats
Aerospace 2020, 7(5), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace7050055 - 11 May 2020
Viewed by 1984
Abstract
Following a global trend towards miniaturization, the population of nano- and micro-satellite continues to increase. CubeSats are standardized small size satellites based on 10 × 10 × 10 cm cube modules (1U) and are becoming sophisticated platforms despite their very small size. This [...] Read more.
Following a global trend towards miniaturization, the population of nano- and micro-satellite continues to increase. CubeSats are standardized small size satellites based on 10 × 10 × 10 cm cube modules (1U) and are becoming sophisticated platforms despite their very small size. This paper details the design and the structural analysis of a Control Moment Gyroscope (CMG) actuator for agile CubeSats with a physical size up to 12U, which require high torque actuators. CMGs have inherited torque amplification capabilities and the recent advances in motor miniaturization make them ideal candidates for small satellite missions with slew rate requirements. The system’s requirements are derived based on conceptual agility requirements for an agile (highly maneuverable) CubeSat which needs to achieve a 90° maneuver in 90 s. With specific cost, mass and volume requirements, the proposed CMG design is based on some of the smallest available off-the-shelf electric motors and uses a light aluminum casing design. The proposed design uses stepper motors for the gimbal mechanism as a low cost, compact and low power solution, contributing to an overall low mass of the full CMG cluster. Static and dynamic analyses were performed to assess the mechanical integrity of the system for launch loads. Apart from a necessary custom control electronic board, the complete mechanical assembly has been designed including electrical hardware. Analyses demonstrate that the overall stress levels acting on the system are manageable by the CMG design. Bolted joints are critical and should be studied independently as the chosen model created singularities around these areas. Each individual CMG of the designed pyramidal cluster is shown to weigh about 35 g. Using the proposed CMG design with a customized avionics board, the complete CMG system is shown to weigh 250 g and occupies slightly more than ½U volume for a CubeSat, indicating the feasibility of CMGs for agile CubeSats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop