CubeSat and Small Satellite Assembly and Payload Integration - NanoAvionics

CubeSat and Small Satellite Assembly and Payload Integration

  • 2024-01-05

At the heart of CubeSat and small satellite manufacturing lies the assembly and integration stage. Here, various subsystems and components are meticulously put together to form the complete satellite. Skilled engineers work in cleanroom environments, carefully connecting wires, installing instruments, and ensuring compatibility between different parts of CubeSats and small satellites.

Coordinating the assembly of these subsystems for CubeSats and small satellites requires diligent attention to detail and a deep understanding of the satellite’s design. Assembly engineers must ensure that all the components are properly connected, aligned, and secured to guarantee the satellite’s structural integrity and optimal performance.

Subsystem, Flatsat, and Bus Assembly in CubeSat and Small Satellite Manufacturing

Before the CubeSat or small satellite itself is assembled, individual subsystems undergo thorough assembly and testing. These subsystems, such as communication, power, and propulsion, are integrated into a flatsat that acts as a digital twin for comprehensive system evaluation. Additionally, the bus, which serves as the platform for CubeSat and small satellite operation, goes through its assembly process. Each step demands rigorous testing and verification to ensure flawless performance when integrated with the payload to form a complete satellite.

Payload Integration in CubeSats and Small Satellites

The payload in CubeSats and small satellites typically consists of instruments or equipment that enable specific mission objectives such as Earth observation, remote sensing, communications, research, or other technology demonstrations. Often being the most expensive part of the satellite, payload integration requires precise handling and careful installation. Compatibility issues may arise when integrating payloads from different manufacturers into CubeSats and small satellites. Thorough testing and collaboration between engineers from various domains are essential to overcome these challenges.

Ground Support Equipment Assembly for CubeSat and Small Satellite Integration

While CubeSats and small satellites rely on ground support equipment during integration and testing, the manufacturing of this equipment itself adds to the complexity. Ground support equipment includes tools, fixtures, and test systems used to facilitate CubeSat and small satellite assembly, integration, and testing. Designing and building this equipment requires an in-depth understanding of the unique needs of CubeSat and small satellite assembly.

Satellite Flight Readiness for CubeSats and Small Satellites

Ensuring that a CubeSat or small satellite is flight-ready is a critical phase in the manufacturing process and often calls for a celebration once completed. A Flight Readiness Review (FRR) involves a series of meticulous checks, inspections, and verifications to confirm that the satellite is ready for launch. Each subsystem, instrument, and component undergo a thorough examination to ensure its flightworthiness. Additionally, results from environmental tests, such as vibration and thermal vacuum testing, are reviewed to ensure the CubeSat or small satellite will respond predictably during its launch and mission in space.

Read more about CubeSat integration launch and deployment here.