P20101: 3u Cubesat Flight Control

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

The team used the initial problem definition phase to familiarize ourselves with the accomplishments of the project's previous iterations and scope our current team's contributions to realizing RIT's Solar Sailing CubeSat ambitions. We have built a list of requirements by taking into consideration a variety of customers, SPEX, RIT's space exploration club, research faculty member of the Imaging Science department, Dr. Swartzlander, who has been researching the use of diffractive grading technology for the use of solar sailing, and NASA, whose many engineering requirements must be met to propose the project for flight.

Project Summary

The 3U CubeSat should inspire more research into "fuel-less" propulsion and provide SPEX with a functional basis upon which they can build a flight- ready CubeSat tat can be launched through NASA CSLI. Lightsail 2, from the Planetary Society, successfully deployed and used specular solar sails to adjust their orbit significantly.

The goals of this project are to create a functional prototype with an attitude control system and provide further insight into the validity and practicality of diffractive solar sails. The final deliverables are a functional prototype, technical paper, poster, and Imagine RIT exhibit. The resulting design and prototype are to adhere to the NASA CSLI regulations and able to operate in an environment with no pressure, large and dramatic temperature fluctuations, and low power.

1-Page Project Summary

Use Cases

Solar Sailing

Following the successful deployment of our CubeSat sail, communications with the satellite and orbit determination performed on the ground will enable the project to serve as experimental evidence towards the use of solar sailing for passive orbital alteration. public/Photo Gallery/solar_sailing_UC.png

Diffractive Grading

A novel research element added to our sail material is a diffractive grading element that provides angular torques not present on a purely reflective sail material. One practical use of this material will provide rotational torque to the entire spacecraft, stabilizing movement in one axis of the satellite's attitude. public/Photo Gallery/diffractive_sailing_UC.png

Mission Planning

A mission plan will provide the customer with details of deploying the solar sail payload, design of experiment for the diffractive grading element to be tested, and definition of quantified experimental results for determining project success. public/Photo Gallery/mission_plan_UC.png

A presentation documenting all of our use cases with diagrams.

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

The expected end result of the project will be a functional prototype of the CubeSat with a solar sail that deploys to its full extent, an attitude control system that is designed to control the CubeSat during orbit, a power system that will be sufficiently powered by sunlight and provide power to the various subsystems, and flight software that can control the system. The customer will also be given a thorough mission plan and documentation on each subsystem to be able to pass off this work to the next team smoothly.

Customer Requirements

Our Customers

We have detmermined three customers/stakeholders for our project.
  1. RIT's SPEX (Space Exploration) club
  2. Dr. Swartzlander's research into diffractive surface material for the sail
  3. NASA and other launch partners that will accept our proposal and agree to send our payload into space


Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

Requirements and Testing spreadsheet

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements

Requirements and Testing spreadsheet


Our biggest constraint for this project is conforming to the cubesat requirements. These requirements include everything from size and weight to maximum allowable outgassing and various test it must pass. Our cubesat must conform to these standards before it will be launched.

Another large constraint is our small budget and low amount of manpower. Our budget is around $700 dollars this year with $1000 spent over the last two years and we have 6 team members. A similar solar sailing cubesat (Lightsail 2) had a budget of $7 million and a team of experienced engineers and scientists.

House of Quality


  1. Confirm that satisfaction of the Engineering Requirements implies that all of the Customer Requirements are met.
  2. Facilitate design trade off decisions


  1. Instructions and EXAMPLE must be deleted before the Problem Definition Review.
  2. Identify an owner for this document.
  3. This document will be inspected at all project reviews during MSD1.
  4. Array customer requirements in the first column and the Engineering Requirements across the top row.
  5. Evaluate the correlations between Customer and Engineering Requirements to ensure all of the Customer Requirements will be satisfied if the Engineering Requirements are satisfied.
  6. Evaluate the potential conflicts between the Engineering Requirements.
  7. Evaluate targets set for Engineering Requirements verses best benchmarking results.
  8. Considering the purpose, the team should anticipate potential failure modes associated with construction and use of this document.

Inputs and Source

  1. Template and Example.
  2. Customer Requirements.
  3. Engineering Requirements.
  4. Benchmarking Data.

Outputs and Destination

Provide input to the risk management process.

Design Review Materials

Here are links to our presentation materials:

Plans for next phase

Home | Planning & Execution | Imagine RIT

Problem Definition | Systems Design | Preliminary Detailed Design | Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep | Subsystem Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test | Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation