Standardization Promotes Flexibility: A Review of CubeSats' Success

  • Chin A
  • Coelho R
  • Brooks L
 et al. 
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Abstract

The initial creation of the P-POD was driven by the need for consistency and increased frequency in both pico-satellite development and access to space. The P-POD protects the launch vehicle and the primary payload as well as the CubeSats, and is compatible with many launch vehicles, making integration repeatable and cost-efficient. The P-POD can accommodate pico-satellites that meet the 1kg mass and 10 cubic centimeter dimensional CubeSat standard. Mass producing a stock deployment device creates reliability in flight heritage and decreases design, manufacturing and testing costs. The P-POD provides a framework for developers to design around, and enforces adherence to the CubeSat specification. In turn, the P-POD is designed with the capability to integrate onto multiple launch vehicles. The advantages of this system are most evident in creating flexibility for CubeSat developers to launch on multiple rockets as secondary payloads. Since most satellite manufacturers must coordinate directly with the launch vehicle provider, secondary and tertiary payloads find it difficult to acquire launches. The P-POD can group multiple CubeSats to provide a competitive basis for launch as a viable secondary payload. This has allowed CubeSat developers to develop their system without a preset launch. A review of the P-POD flights over the past 5 years, and an outline of future launches consistently show the value of a standard and the benefits of flexibility. One of the main keys to the success of the CubeSat Program has been its strict adherence to the initial standard. Cal Poly, NASA Ames, and other organizations are looking to incorporate similar standards to larger satellites in an effort to bring low-cost access to space for a wider range of spacecraft. These efforts will utilize the efficiency of the P-POD and will incorporate outside influence in developing future standards. CubeSats provide a unique flexibility in the aerospace industry opening up quicker and cheaper mission opportunities than ever before. In addition, the research at the CubeSat level offers a unique shift in design operations. This means that the structure and hardware are designed first, while the development of the payload comes second. In addition, developers can devote their focus on meeting the CubeSat standard and developing satellites and not on launch logistics and integration. Background

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Authors

  • Alexander Chin

  • Roland Coelho

  • Lori Brooks

  • Ryan Nugent

  • Jordi Puig-Suari

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