Development of an Experimental Setup for CubeSat Attitude Determination and Control

  • Abdullah Mohamed Ali

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


CubeSats are miniaturized satellites that come in different sizes starting from a 1U size and reaching 12Us. Like any satellite, CubeSats have different subsystems including the Attitude Determination and Control subsystem. This subsystem is so vital for the CubeSat to orient properly for other subsystems and payloads to operate as designed. The main objective of this thesis is to design and manufacture a setup to test the ADCS of any 1U CubeSat. The test bed shall provide the CubeSat's ADCS with the same conditions it will face in space. Replicating the space environment for ADCS requires the elimination of moments due to gravity. In other words, the center of gravity must be coincident with the center of rotation of the CubeSat. Also, additional mass moments of inertia must be compensated so the ADCS actuators don't get overloaded. SolidWorks was used to design the CAD model for the testbed and do the initial CG balance. The manufacturing was accomplished using a 5-axis CNC machine and a laser cutter. LabView was used to control the testbed gathering readings from the sensors and sending commands to the motors. The testbed uses a spherical air bearing designed and fabricated in-house to eliminate frictional moments so the CubeSat can tumble freely as it might do in space. In addition, a novel hybrid mechanism that both eliminates the gravity torques and controls the testbed's attitude is proposed. The center of gravity was accurately calibrated in the three directions and the designed reaction wheels were found adequate to actuate the testbed.
Date of AwardJun 2022
Original languageAmerican English


  • CubeSat testbed
  • Spherical air bearing
  • CG balance
  • reaction wheels.

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