Improving CubeSat reliability: Subsystem redundancy or improved testing?

J. Bouwmeester*, A. Menicucci, E.K.A. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The objective of this paper is to investigate which approach would lead to more reliable CubeSats: full subsystem redundancy or improved testing. Based on data from surveys, the reliability of satellites and subsystems is estimated using a Kaplan–Meier estimator. Subsequently, a variety of reliability models is defined and their maximum likelihood estimates are compared. A product of a Lognormal distribution addressing immaturity failure and a Gompertz distribution addressing wear-out is found to best represent CubeSat reliability. Bayesian inference is used to find realistic wear-out parameters by using failure data of small satellites. Subsystem reliability estimates are subsequently found using a similar approach. A reliability model for CubeSats with redundant subsystems is established, verified and applied in a Monte Carlo simulation. The results are compared with a model for reduced immaturity failure. Allocating resources to reduction of immaturity failures through improved testing is considered to be superior to allocating these resources to the implementation of subsystem redundancy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108288
Number of pages18
JournalReliability Engineering & System Safety
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • CubeSat reliability
  • Subsystem redundancy
  • Bayesian inference
  • Reliability models

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