Microsatllite (n): A miniaturised artificial satellite of unusually small size or mass, typically under 500kg.


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StrathSat is the University of Strathclyde's first CubeSat programme, developing a technology demonstrator for a deployable deorbiting device.


StrathSEDS uses a Wiki to manage the StrathSat project with workpackages used to breakdown the project into sections which can be of short duration up to dissertation length. Groups or individual members take on these projects either through their courses or as an extra-curricular project.

StrathSat has several subsystems and each of these is home to many projects. The subsystems are:

  • CubeSat structure
  • Power generation and storage
  • Data storage and transmission
  • Satellite control software
  • Satellite hardware and electronics
  • Thermal analysis and design
  • Deployable structure and mechanism

The Satelloon De-Orbiting Concept

Using the effects of solar radiation pressure and the Earth's oblateness spacecraft can be de-orbited passively from high altitudes.

The Satelloon de-orbiting concept makes use of the force exerted by solar photons when they impact a reflective area to alter the orbit of the spacecraft. An initially circular orbit becomes more and more elliptic until the closest point of the orbit, the perigee, enters the atmosphere (phase 1). The atmospheric drag will then cause the spacecraft to de-orbit (phase 2). This method works entirely passively and requires a large, light-weight reflective structure to be deployed to greatly increase the effects of solar radiation pressure and air drag. At Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) altitudes this method is more mass efficient than using thrusters which need a lot of propellant to perform a similar manoeuvre at these altitudes.

StrathSat is a proposed technology demonstrator mission for the Satelloon de-orbiting method. Our aim is to demonstrate that a large, lightweight reflective structure as required for the de-orbiting method can be deployed from a small spacecraft in microgravity and vacuum conditions.

preview jped of the pdf posterFor further information on the Satelloon de-orbiting concept have a look at this poster which was presented at the 2011 University Research Day.

A more detailed explanation of the orbital dynamics of the method and an analysis of its efficiency can be found in the following paper:


Lücking, Charlotte and Colombo, Camilla and Mcinnes, Colin (2011) A passive de-orbiting strategy for high altitude CubeSat missions using a deployable reflective balloon. In: 8th IAA Symposium on Small Satellites, 2011-04-04 - 2011-04-08, Berlin.


Rocket-borne Experiments for University Students

The REXUS/BEXUS programme allows students from universities and higher education colleges across Europe to carry out scientific and technological experiments on research rockets and balloons. Each year, two rockets and two balloons are launched, carrying up to 20 experiments designed and built by student teams.

See the REXUS/BEXUS website for more information.


Main Project Sponsor: Alumni Fund