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CP12 (ExoCube 2)

Comm Frequency: 437.150 MHz

Modulation: FSK

Comm Output Power: ~1W

Launch Date: late-2018

Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit Test Flight

Satellite Name: ExoCube 2

School: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Mission: Characterize ion densities in the exosphere

Project Status: In development




ExoCube 2 is a relaunch of the original ExoCube which was launched in early 2015. ExoCube 2 has undergone a complete redesign of the antenna deployment mechanisms compared to the original ExoCube, and is a collaboration between Cal Poly SLO, NASA Goddard, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Illinois. Cal Poly is providing the bus design and manufacturing. NASA Goddard is providing the scientific payload which is a custom mass spectrometer. Both the University of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois are responsible for collection and interpretation of the payload data collected. The data in question is the mass and densities of ions located in the exosphere, which is the uppermost part of our atmosphere at approximately 600km above sea level.

ExoCube 2 is Cal Poly’s 12th CubeSat (CP12) and similarly to its predecessor is a 3U format- its outer dimensions are 10cm x 10cm x 30cm (3.9in x 3.9in x 11.8in). The satellite has custom payload housing and structure, machined in the Cal Poly shops by Cal Poly students, as well as student designed electrical boards. It has an advanced Attitude Determination Control System (ADCS) which includes two deployable gravity gradient booms with brass tip masses for passive stabilization, magnetic torquers for de-tumbling, a momentum wheel for increased attitude control, solar angle sensors to determine the satellite's position, and custom Cal Poly software to process data from the solar angle sensors. ExoCube 2 is due to launch on a Virgin Orbit test launch late-2018.

CP14 (ADE)

Comm Frequency: TBD

Modulation: FSK

Comm Output Power: ~1W

Launch Date: TBD

Launch Vehicle: TBD

Satellite Name: ADE (Aerodynamic Deorbit Experiment)

School: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Mission: Technology demonstration of passive drag sail

Project Status: In development



The primary mission objective of the Aerodynamic Deorbit Experiment (ADE) spacecraft is to demonstrate the viability of a deployable drag sail that could be used in future space missions to significantly reduce satellite deorbit times. As a secondary mission objective, ADE will attempt to characterize the radiation environment in its trajectory, which runs through both the inner and outer Van Allen belts each orbit. The project was conceived in early 2017 by the Purdue University Spaceflight Projects Laboratory, which requested assistance, direction, and hardware from Cal Poly’s PolySat lab. Since then, Cal Poly and Purdue University have been collaborating on the design of the spacecraft bus to support the drag sail payload, which is being designed by a Ph.D student at Georgia Institute of Technology.

ADE is Cal Poly’s 14th CubeSat (CP14). It is a 1U form factor (10cm x 10cm x 10cm CubeSat). A unique challenge for this mission is the necessity to withstand an extremely heavy radiation environment. To resolve this, the thickness of shielding material that will keep the spacecraft alive for a sufficient duration will be determined. Finding a solution to the radiation issue has been a great learning opportunity for the engineers on the team, and has made the overall spacecraft design challenging yet rewarding. ADE is expected to launch in early-2019, and will be operated by ground stations at Cal Poly, Purdue, Arizona State University, and Georgia Tech.


pocket Rocket

Satellite Name: Pocket Rocket

School: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Mission: Propulsion experiment

Project Status: Undergoing testing



Pocket Rocket is a research and development project exploring CubeSat propulsion solutions, specifically using an electrothermal plasma thruster developed at Australian National University. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that two of these thrusters can be integrated into a 1U CubeSat structure complete with on-board gas regulation and delivery system, power storage, and control system. These subsystem components are integrated in an in-house machined aluminum structure to create a working model of a potential spaceflight mission in order to demonstrate the propulsion technology.

The Pocket Rocket project began in April 2017. PolySat completed the project from initial inception, through design and analysis, to final manufacturing and assembly. The final integrated model demonstrates the feasibility of CubeSat plasma propulsion. Future development will involve designing for flight, consolidating and expanding propellant storage, and developing on-board RF amplification in collaboration with Stanford University.