Integration is the process of assembling or otherwise combining the separate subsystems into your final overall system.

Testing involves making sure your components, subsystems, and overall system meet their tolerances and perform as expected. This is typically done all along the integration process.

The majority of CubeSat launches take place as rideshares, that is, they hitch a ride on a rocket purchased for some other, primary, customer.

What I'm interested in is the influence the primary payload on the launch has on the standards to which hitchhikers are held. For instance, can a very risk-averse primary disallow CubeSats with propulsion? Does a CubeSat operator need permission from the primary operator to, say, turn on its radios? Do some requirements get relaxed somewhat if the CubeSat is housed in a container, like the P-POD?

Or, does the primary have no influence at all, in which case the CubeSats need only meet the requirements set by the launch vehicle provider?

Essentially, how closely do the CubeSat folks work with the primary payload folks?


1 Answer 1


I was able to find a few requirements for CubeSats that are based upon its integration into a larger system which includes a primary payload (all instances of primary payload are bolded in quotes below, emphasis mine):

CubeSats shall not present any danger to neighboring CubeSats in the P-POD, the LV, or primary payloads: All parts shall remain attached to the CubeSats during launch, ejection and operation. No additional space debris shall be created. CubeSats shall be designed to minimize jamming in the P-POD. Absolutely no pyrotechnics are allowed inside the CubeSat.

-- from CubeSat Design Specification rev 11 - California Polytechnic State University

No electronics shall be active during launch to prevent any electrical or RF interference with the launch vehicle and primary payloads. CubeSats with rechargeable batteries shall be fully deactivated during launch or launch with discharged batteries.

-- from CubeSat Design Specification rev 12 - California Polytechnic State University

Placard: The payload and canisters may be integrated several months or years ahead of launch. A placard informs the LV of the contents, provides traceability, and reaffirms conformance to a specification giving the LV and primary payload assurance of mission success.

-- from An Advanced Standard for CubeSats - Hevner, Holemans, Puig-Suari, and Twiggs

This brings up another requirement, which is the CubeSat must be powered down while in the P-POD so it will not interfere with the primary payload.

-- from Systems Integration and Stabilization of a CubeSat - Kikugawa

From the "Placard" section in "An Advanced Standard for CubeSats", we get the impression that the primary payload team and the CubeSat team do not necessarily work closely together, but that the CubeSat teams are given requirements to ensure that the CubeSat does not interfere with the primary payload.


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