What are Small Satellites?

Small satellites are a class of any artificial space satellite of mass less than 150 kg. At the University of Illinois, most small satellite research focuses on CubeSats, ranging from 4 to 12 kg in mass, and up to six litres in size.

What is going on in Small Satellite research at Illinois?

The Aerospace Engineering Department currently has five on-going satellite missions.  LAICE and CubeSail will be launching in late 2017. LAICE will be performing atmosphere and ionosphere coupling analysis to learn about space weather. CubeSail will be demonstrating a novel turbine-like solar sail for eventual use in interplanetary missions.  In 2018, the SASSI^2, CAPSat, and SpaceICE missions will be constructed, tested and delivered.  These missions are in collaboration with partners from around the University, and throughout the Midwest, with the Aerospace Department taking a leading role in the satellite design and assembly.  Funding for the small satellite programs at Illinois comes primarily from NASA and the NSF.


Who are the faculty members in the area?


What are the classes in this area?

  • AE 402: Orbital Mechanics
  • AE 403: Attitude Determination and Control
  • AE 502: Advanced Orbital Mechanics
  • AE 508: Optimal Space Trajectories
  • ENG491CU1: Introduction to CubeSats
  • ENG491CU2: Advanced CubeSat Design
  • AE468 Remote Sensing