UCI CubeSat

UC Irvine CubeSat

The CubeSat team at UCI is a student-led undergraduate interdisciplinary research and design project with the goal of launching a 2U nanosatellite into orbit to test a UCI research payload. The satellite operates with six main engineering subsystems: Avionics, Communications, Structures, Power, Developer Operations, and Systems, in addition to housing our research payload.

The research payload is a variable emissivity device (VED) that will be developed by Spacecraft Thermal Management Systems (STMS). The payload will be tested as a thermal regulator, and our task is to evaluate its performance under various degrees of solar exposure and at varying adjustable emissivity values. We aim to determine if materials similar to the sample can serve as an inexpensive method for thermal management on future spacecraft.

In recent years, the space sector has undergone a significant transformation with the emergence of privatization. This shift has brought about the rise of small-scale satellites, which, despite their diminutive size (smaller than a kitchen fridge), are becoming central figures in space technology. They play a crucial role in scientific missions, technology demonstrations, and Earth observations, thereby enhancing accessibility and cost-effectiveness in space exploration.

Our design project has a twofold objective: to provide undergraduate students interested in space engineering with hands-on experience in the research, design, and development of small-scale satellites and to prepare them for their future careers in this dynamic field.


  • Ensure that payload requirements and mission objectives from payload stakeholders are all met
  • Integrate components of various subsystems to collect data, manage power, and communicate with the ground station
  • Build and test a functional receiving ground station
  • Test the subsystems and CubeSat among operational and launch conditions
  • Integrate and successfully launch the satellite
  • Create thorough documentation and a foundation for future UCI orbital projects


Avionics: Responsible for the central flight computer and main interfaces between other satellite subsystems. Also responsible for the attitude determination and control system (ADCS), which allows for orientation adjustment of the satellite in orbit to ensure optimal power collection and to comply with payload requirements.

Power: Includes the external solar panels, battery management system, and the battery responsible for power collection and distribution throughout the satellite. This subteam is also mainly responsible for serving as the interface between the two external payload teams and are responsible for developing and integrating test procedures for operation.

Communications: Receiving payload data and telemetry from all parts of the satellite and packaging into a transmittable form. Responsible for handling data uplink and downlink from the satellite and developing the hardware and software to handle data communication within and from the satellite.

Structures: Responsible for creating all of the support structures and mechanisms within the satellite and ensuring that all designs comply with space hardware guidelines and best practices. Also responsible for ensuring that all components remain within nominal operation temperatures, accounting for heat conservation and dissipation.

Systems: Ensures all component and subsystem interfaces are well-defined and accounted for. Manages subsystem integration, critical project documentation, and verifies mission requirements and payload stakeholders are satisfied.

Developer Operations: Responsible for making tools to increase the team's overall software/firmware development efficiency and researching ways to improve the reliability of the software/firmware written. One of their primary projects is to create a remote testing infrastructure to help test the functionality of individual subsystems as well as cross-team integration.

Project Lead: Adrian Osorio (osorioaj@uci.edu)
Advisor: Professor David Copp (dcopp@uci.edu)
Team Email: team.ucicubesat@gmail.com

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