Special Issue "Small Satellite Technologies and Mission Concepts"

A special issue of Aerospace (ISSN 2226-4310).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Vaios Lappas
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 1000 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.


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

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
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
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)
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