Computers and memory, radios, cameras, light sensors, temperature sensors, accelerometers & gyros1, power supplies, power conditioners and converters and battery interfaces can all be put together with Commercial Off-The-Shelf or COTS components.

That doesn't necessarily meant they will work well together or individually in space.

Question: What was the first satellite with nearly-all COTS electronics? How well did it work?

1MEMS accelerometers & gyros can be bought now but may not have been available when a potential answering-spacecraft was launched, so I've specified "nearly-all COTS electronics" above.

  • $\begingroup$ I've added the cubesat tag but I don't want to require a cubesat as an answer. Do we need a smallsat tag, or might we just include small satellites within the cubesat tag's usage guidance? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 26 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ It depends on what you mean by COTS. Does the RAD6000 count as COTS? If one was designing a satellite in the early 2000s that would have been the go-to computer. Or by COTS do you mean a computer one can buy at a local computer store? $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Jan 26 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidHammen references to COTS electronics in space are all over the internet, it's not my construct and I don't think I should dare to redefine it. I would assume that post 1996 RAD600s might be a stretch at $200k. Answers to How much more expensive are scientific instruments for space use? use the term COTS at length, so it seems to have some generally understood meaning already. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 27 at 0:28
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    $\begingroup$ I can't imagine anybody launching a spacecraft without having extensively tested whether or not its components will work well together. Of course, whether or not they will work well in space is a different question. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Jan 27 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ When it comes to space-based equipment, I fear this will come close to opinions as to the meaning of "COTS" as it has evolved over time. For example, SpaceX's "Starlink" satellites are practically COTS as an assembled unit. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 27 at 15:26

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