How long do cubesat take to start up completely after they are deployed?

I know the cubesat standard requires 30 minutes after initial separation from the launcher to deploy deployables such as antennas and solar panels and another 15 before transmitting RF signals.

After this the system has to go through ground station acquisition, system validation and the trajectory determination before nominal operations can take place. Assuming no system failures, roughly how long does that tend to take?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! I don't think this has an answer @Nathan, there are too many variables: hardware, software, mission, etc. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 7, 2018 at 11:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @GdD I think the OP is interested in a rough idea, a few examples would be a great answer. No need for an insta-close to prevent people from posting an answer. Why not give it a day or two and see what happens? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 7, 2018 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ By "Start up" I take it the OP means be fully tested and operational? In my mind "start up" means computer up and running, which is usually within seconds when the separation switch opens and the computer is energized. $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    Feb 27, 2019 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


It depends, but it could be a long time. Most Cubesat ground stations only have a single station. It could take as long as 12-16 hours to be in coverage of a specific ground station. The validation might be very small, or very large. It could take an hour, or days, but not likely much more then days.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, I take it you know this from personal experience? $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    Jun 7, 2018 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ It is hard to say anything more specific, but... Most cubesats don't require a lot of on orbit testing, usually because they are just not expensive enough to spend significant amounts of time. I haven't worked with high end cubesats, so it is hard to say more then that... $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Jun 7, 2018 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Nathan an interesting addition to your question, or maybe as a follow-up question might be to ask about a particularly short case. Something like "How quickly has a cubesat..." or "Has a cubesat ever established contact with the ground within an hour or two?" or taken its first measurement or photograph, etc. That way one example would be enough. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 7, 2018 at 15:38

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