P18101: CubeSat Solar Sail


Project Summary Project Information

A solar sail is a thin sheet of highly reflective material which utilizes the momentum of a star's photons to propel small spacecraft. Solar sails can be used both to accelerate spacecraft to high velocities and to deorbit existing satellites. This technology eliminates the need for traditional propellant fuels which are costly, heavy, and limited. Such a propulsion system is thus highly compatible with CubeSats, miniature satellites made primarily for scientific experimentation which focus on compact, standardized, and modular design. In 2015 the Planetary Society launched a larger CubeSat model with a solar sail incorporated amongst its scientific instruments.

The aim of this project is to design and prototype a deployment mechanism for a solar sail contained within a CubeSat. The goal is for this system to be integrated into another RIT Space Exploration satellite in order to test the concept of solar sail propulsion for positioning and high speed space travel. The desired outcome of this project is a repeatable and remote sail deployment system which meets all the specifications of CubeSat regulations, does not compromise stability, and minimizes weight and volume.

To access further detail in the project proposal, click the following link. Project Proposal.
Project Name
CubeSat Solar Sail Deployment Mechanism
Project Number
Project Family
Aerospace Systems and Technology
Start Term
2171 (Fall 2017)
End Term
2175 (Spring 2018)
Faculty Guides
Art North, Chris Leibfried
Primary Customer
RIT Space Exploration Research Group

Team Members

From left to right: Eric Pareis, Michael Berezny, Victor Braescu, Andrew Lewis

From left to right: Eric Pareis, Michael Berezny, Victor Braescu, Andrew Lewis

Member Role Discipline Contact
Victor Braescu Project Manager ME vib2776@rit.edu
Michael Berezny Communications and Purchasing ME mab1290@rit.edu
Andrew Lewis Lead Engineer ME ajl9266@rit.edu
Eric Pareis Facilitator ME egp5082@rit.edu

Work Breakdown: By Phase


Planning & Execution

Project Photos and Videos

Imagine RIT

Gate Reviews

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Preliminary Detailed Design

Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep

Subsystem Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation

Work Breakdown by Topic

Project Management Design Tools Design Documentation Implementation Validation Presentation & Dissemination


Customer Needs

Engineering Requirements

Engineering Schedule


Risk Management

Problem Management

Use Case One

Use Case Two


Functional Decomposition

Morphological Chart

Benchmarking Pugh Chart

Concept Pugh Chart


Mechanical Drawings

CAD Files

Arduino Code

Electrical Schematic


Test Plans and Results

Design Review Documents

Technical Paper


Imagine RIT Exhibit

"Lightning Talk" Video


The members of P18101 would like to extend sincere thanks to the individuals who provided continuous support on this project including Art North, Chris Leibfried, Elizabeth DeBartolo, Mihail Barbosu, and James Parkus. We would also like to acknowledge the RIT MECE Machine Shop and RIT Space Exploration for making this project possible. Lastly we’d like to thank RIT Multidisciplinary Senior Design, RIT Space Exploration, and Boeing for providing project funds.