ESA recommendations bring new CubeSat designs

ESA recommendations bring new CubeSat designs

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Now building CubeStas – nanosatellites that can fit in your hand and are fully operational – has become easy with the help of ESA’s Fly Your Satellite! Programme.

Six active CubeSat teams, divided in two groups, were invited to ESA’s technical heart, ESTEC, in the Netherlands, to attend workshops and meet ESA specialists in order to improve their designs and solve pressing issues. This is part of a process known as Critical Design Review, or CDR for short. The experts from ESA were impressed with the students’ CubeSat designs, but their experienced eyes noticed some complications with each satellite that would need to be resolved.

The teams took these comments on board and set to work making improvements. The updated designs were then shown to the Review Board for a second appraisal. This was an important moment, as if successful it would allow the teams to freeze the design and mark their transition from the detailed design phase, commonly known as Phase C, to the satellite manufacturing, integration and test activities, performed in Phase D.

CubeSat teams discuss their designs with ESA specialists during the Critical Design Review process

The results came in: five teams demonstrated a valid and robust design and convinced the CubeSat Review Board members that if they close-out a number of open actions, they are ready to move onto Phase D. One team was given some extra time to achieve readiness and demonstrate the closure of all open actions before proceeding further.

Upon close-out of the final actions, the teams will start assembly and integration activities as well as the first functional tests on their satellites.