Utility and constraints of PocketQubes

J. Bouwmeester*, S. Radu, M. S. Uludag, N. Chronas, S. Speretta, A. Menicucci, E. K.A. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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PocketQubes are a form factor of highly miniaturized satellites with a body of one or more cubic units of 5 cm. In this paper, the characteristics of PocketQubes in terms of their constraints and their (potential) utility are treated. To avoid space debris and limit collision risk, the orbits of PocketQubes need to be constraint. An analysis of orbital decay characteristics has been carried out which, considering existing space regulations and a pro-active attitude, PocketQubes should preferably be launched in low Earth orbits below 400 km altitude. Due to technical constraints, such as form factor, power and attitude control, the domain of applications for single PocketQube missions is limited. Still, they can act as low-cost training and technology demonstration platforms. To make PocketQubes an attractive platform for other types of missions, not only the launch cost, but also the development, production and operations cost should be significantly lower than CubeSats. When the PocketQube platform matures and produced in high numbers, networks of PocketQubes can enable new applications. Applications considered feasible are in the field of (but not limited to) continuous surveillance using optical instruments, gravity field monitoring using precise orbit determination, in-situ measurements of the space environment, low data rate or bandwidth communication services and inexpensive probes around other celestial bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-586
Number of pages14
JournalCEAS Space Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Application
  • Constellation
  • Constraints
  • Cost-efficiency
  • Orbit
  • PocketQube


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