Design of a CubeSat test platform for the verification of small electric propulsion systems

  • Corpino, Sabrina (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (DIMEAS) Politecnico di Torino) ;
  • Stesina, Fabrizio (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (DIMEAS) Politecnico di Torino) ;
  • Saccoccia, Giorgio (European Space Agency (ESA)) ;
  • Calvi, Daniele (Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (DIMEAS) Politecnico di Torino)
  • Received : 2019.03.28
  • Accepted : 2019.05.30
  • Published : 2019.09.25


Small satellites represent an emerging opportunity to realize a wide range of space missions at lower cost and faster delivery, compared to traditional spacecraft. However, small platforms, such as CubeSats, shall increase their actual capabilities. Miniaturized electric propulsion systems can provide the satellite with the key capability of moving in space. The level of readiness of miniaturized electric propulsion systems is low although many concepts have been developed. The present research intends to build a flexible test platform for the assessment of selected small propulsion systems in relevant environment at laboratory level. Main goal of the research is to analyze the mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and chemical interactions of propulsion systems with the modern CubeSat-technology and to assess the performance of the integrated platform. The test platform is a 6U CubeSat hosting electric propulsion systems, providing mechanical, electrical and data interfaces, able to handle a variety of electric propulsion systems, thanks to the ability to regulate and distribute electric power, to exchange data according to several protocols, and to provide different mechanical layouts. The test platform is ready to start the first verification campaign. The paper describes the detailed design of the platform and the main results of the AIV activities.


CubeSat test platform;miniaturized electric propulsion system;verification of small satellites


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