Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering


Ahsan Choudhuri


A CubeSat is a small satellite that has become popular in recent years due to their low cost and low complexity. The CubeSat standard has allowed hobbyists, universities, nations with developing space programs, and even K-12 students to send payloads into space. It has also allowed aerospace companies, the Department of Defense, and NASA to test low technology readiness level technologies with lower risk.

At the time of the publication, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has recently launched their first CubeSat-Orbital Factory 2-which is currently on board the International Space Station awaiting deployment into low earth orbit (LEO). Additionally, UTEP is currently developing Orbital Factory X, which will serve as a propulsion module to send CubeSats deeper into space.

Though CubeSats are less sophisticated than traditional satellites, there are still operational challenges that must be evaluated, such as communication access with ground stations, compliance with orbital debris mitigation regulations, orbital lifetime, power budget analysis, attitude control, and radiation dangers. Compared to LEO, CubeSats sent into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) face tougher challenges as ground station access is significantly limited due to long orbital periods. Satellites in GTO will also be exposed to large doses of radiation from the Van Allen belts. To send CubeSats even deeper into space-for example, to the moon-trajectory design becomes an important consideration, particularly as complex low-energy transfers are required due to reaction wheel limitations in a CubeSat form factor. For the Lunar IcePIC CubeSat that UTEP has proposed to launch on a NASA Artemis mission, a weak stability boundary (WSB) ballistic lunar transfer (BLT) is being designed which takes advantage of multiple Earth flybys as well as perturbations from the sun's gravity to insert the spacecraft into lunar orbit while using very little propellant.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

60 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

James Pierce Holt

Available for download on Wednesday, January 24, 2120