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32 votes
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Land a cubesat on the moon with ion engine

Not a soft landing. A soft landing requires the spacecraft having a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one (otherwise it just falls faster and faster). Ion engines have a very low thrust to weight ...
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29 votes
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Why do we need dedicated launch vehicles for small satellites?

Why hasn't the small-lift launch vehicles completely replaced by the medium and heavy-lift launch vehicles? Because small launchers can provide several things: A small launcher is much cheaper than ...
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24 votes
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How serious a problem can outgassing of satellites be?

Its not a mere formality it is unfortunately one of those things that makes satellites expensive. However I wouldn't be surprised if all kinds of nominally incompatible materials have already been ...
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19 votes
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Is the Pi really fit for outer space?

Most cubesats are student projects that they want to have for only a matter of a few months at most. That being said, the Pi would likely be very susceptible to Single Event Upsets, SEUs, and thus ...
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17 votes

Has any CubeSat flown with an active propulsion system?

Yes, we know of a least one CubeSat that has flown (and is currently flying) with an active propulsion system. Specifically a steam powered warp drive. STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and ...
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17 votes
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How do these cubesats' whip antennas work?

I think most of this can be seen from the picture: There are two antennae made of spring(blue) steel, so will automatically return to a straight line once the far end is released -the near end of ...
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17 votes

Why do we need dedicated launch vehicles for small satellites?

Apparently lining up a lot of smallsats for a dedicated big rocket launch is like herding cats. Delays on any of the smallsats delay the overall launch. Hence SpaceX's recent announcement that their ...
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15 votes
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Are cubesats deployed with fully discharged batteries? Even those on Sherpa?

All cubesats that I have personal knowledge of (including the Planet Labs fleet) were launched with partially charged batteries, typically at around the 50% level that minimizes degradation in storage....
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15 votes

How serious a problem can outgassing of satellites be?

There are a few recorded incidents of spacecraft contamination caused by outgassing. On Cassini, some haze was noted in test photographs after launch; this was thought to be due to some outgassing ...
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  • 5,168
15 votes

Reaction Wheels vs. Momentum wheels

I found a great answer to your question from Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA! It appears that the difference is one device has a dual purpose of stabilization as well as ...
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14 votes

Why is the cubesat structure so expensive?

It's expensive because of the quality requirements. Material cost is small, low demand is a factor but a structure that size can be made much cheaper than this. The main cost factors are : The ...
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14 votes

How do these cubesats' whip antennas work?

This photo confirms @MikeBrockington's answers: dual antennas, nested when stowed, opposed when deployed. A later photo at https://www.up.edu.ph/index.php/with-maya-1-flying-high-dost-up-aim-to-train-...
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13 votes
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Could a cubesat propel itself to Mars?

I am assuming you mean by propulsion by the CubeSat itself. Not at the moment! Mostly because of the throughput (thruster lifetime) constraint on small Electric Propulsion (EP) thrusters designed for ...
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13 votes
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Are there cubesats in GEO?

tl;dr There are zero CubeSats in GEO The Union of Concerned Scientists has a great database of satellites orbiting the Earth, the smallest satellite that they have in GEO orbit is the S5 smallsat ...
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12 votes

By what methods can cubesats move from LEO to higher orbits?

Engines are under development for CubeSats. For example there's the Electrospray (colloid) thruster which is effectively a low-thrust ion drive. An alternative is to launch from the ISS with a ...
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11 votes
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Using non-radiation-hardened processors in lunar orbit …

Yes, it’s probably possible, but to determine specific feasible approaches more information is needed about your mission. Key questions: What is the transfer and operational orbit? This information ...
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11 votes
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Could an articulated permanent magnet work as a low-power cubesat magnetotorquer? Problems?

RAX and RAX-2 and possibly other cubesats launched by the University of Michigan (I can't remember at the moment) used fixed neodymium based magnets on their Z+ axis. Hysteresis was added to dump any ...
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11 votes
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Cubesat Launch Costs

For ISRO we have revenue details on few small satellites launched between 2013 to 2015 through an official response in Indian Parliament PDF VELOX-1 (3U) satellite from Nanyang Technological ...
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  • 1,462
11 votes

Would space exploration benefit by sending small drones instead of huge rockets?

Let's say you have a 6500kg piece of equipment you want to launch into space, but your rocket design can only lift 2500kg to the desired orbit. You can: Build five of these Strap them together Put ...
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11 votes
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How are cubesat electronics protected against the effects of radiation in LEO?

Radiation shielding in a cubesat (and spacecraft in general) is a tricky thing because radiation shielding adds mostly negative factors to the satellite. In general, the heavier your shielding is and ...
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11 votes
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Temperature of a satellite orbiting in low Earth orbit

The temperature development of a satellite in LEO depends on a variety of factors. How (quickly) does the satellite rotate, how much is it in eclipse (night), what kind of radiators or internal heat ...
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10 votes
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Barriers to launching a cubesat

Launching a CubeSat is by their nature a difficult process. They are designed as a secondary payload, which means that the primary payload dictates the entire launch. There are some programs such as ...
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10 votes
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Hyperspectral Imaging from Low Earth Orbit

Here is a way to start. Choose an altitude or height $h$, say 400 km (if it's deployed from the ISS) Choose a required spatial resolution $d$ on the ground sufficient to see what it is you'd like to ...
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  • 148k
10 votes

Why isn't there a rocket to launch a single cubesat?

Along with the scaling of rocket engineering that has SpaceX stacking masses of starlinks into a single rocket with any orbital launch there are some non scaling ground constraints. Any launch will ...
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10 votes

Why isn't there a rocket to launch a single cubesat?

A rocket that can launch a single cubesat would have to be competitive in the current market. But that market is skewed: cubesats are passengers on launches that usually have one large satellite (the ...
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10 votes

If there "won't be" rockets to launch individual cubesats, then why did JAXA build exactly that? (SS-520-xx)

The SS-520-5 launcher is not intended to be an operational vehicle. ... the SS-520-5 was also an experiment to construct a minimum system that can be established with a micro-...
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9 votes
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RTOS vs Linux against single event upsets

In general, you want as simple of an OS for any embedded systems application. You want as few features as you can get away with. You are less likely to run into problems that way, don't really need ...
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9 votes
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How to test the impact of radiation on cubesat's electronics?

TL;DR: The medical accelerators are not suitable. There are basically two effects of radiation on electronics: Single event upsets (SEUs) RAM Memory cells are usually small capacitors (caps) which ...
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9 votes

What regulations, agreements, or other forces can help mitigate "PrankSats"?

For your specific example, the answer is cost. Nobody is going to spend hundreds of millions (or even just 1% of that) just to prank a community of astronomers. For other examples? What stops China ...
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9 votes

Rocket to launch 8 cubesat to LEO at an equidistant distance

You'll be definitely better off with thrusters on individual cubesats, when taking the total mass: last stage + payload, into consideration. To create the distance needed, with a single launch, you'll ...
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