Propulsion System Modelling for Multi-Satellite Missions Performed by Nanosatellites


Progress in miniaturization of satellite components allows complex missions to be performed by small spacecraft. Growing interest in the small satellite sector has led to development of standards such as CubeSat, contributing to lower costs of satellite development and increasing their service competitiveness. Small satellites are seen now as a prospective replacement for conventional sized satellites in the future, providing also services for demanding users. New paradigms of multi-satellite missions such as fractionation and federalization also open up new prospects for applications of small platforms.

To perform a comprehensive simulation and analysis of future nanosatellite missions, an adequate propulsion system model must be used. Such model should account for propulsion solutions which can be implemented on nanosatellites and used in multi-satellite missions.

In the paper, concepts of distributed satellite systems (constellations, formations, fractionated and federated) are described with a survey of past, on-going and planned multi-satellite nanosatellites missions. Currently developed propulsion systems are discussed and the models of propulsion systems embedded in the WUT satellite simulation model are presented.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Guerra, A. G. C., Francisco, F., Villate, J., Aguado Agelet, F., Bertolami, O., and Rajan, K., 2016, “On Small Satellites for Oceanography: A Survey,” Acta Astronaut., 127, pp. 404–423.

  • [2] “Planet” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 15-Dec-2017].

  • [3] NASA, 2017, “Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS)” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 15-Dec-2017].

  • [4] Brown, O., and Eremenko, P., 2006, “Fractionated Space Architectures: A Vision for Responsive Space,” 4th Responsive Sp. Conf., p. RS4-2006-1002.

  • [5] Brown, O., and Eremenko, P., 2006, “The Value Proposition for Fractionated Space Architectures,” AIAA SPACE 2006 Conference & Exposition, pp. 1–22.

  • [6] Golkar, A. A., 2013, “Federated Satellite Systems (FSS): A Vision Towards an Innovation in Space Systems Design,” IAA Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation.

  • [7] Scharf, D. P., Hadaegh, F. Y., and Ploen, S. R., 2003, “A Survey of Spacecraft Formation Flying Guidance and Control (Part I): Guidance,” Proc. 2003 Am. Control Conf., (Part I), pp. 1733–1739.

  • [8] Mathieu, C., and Weigel, a. L., 2005, “Assessing the Flexibility Provided by Fractionated Spacecraft,” Collect. Tech. Pap. - AIAA Sp. 2005 Conf. Expo.

  • [9] NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 2015, General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) Mathematical Specification.


Journal + Issues