Initial conditions of a novel CubeSat during atmospheric re-entry

Maria N. Kardassi, Julie Graham, Sai Abhishek Peddakotla, Ciarán Jenkins, Andrew Wilson, Massimiliano Vasile

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Despite the establishment of Design for Demise (D4D) as a debris mitigation process, little is still known about the conditions under which debris fragment or survive during re-entry. STRATHcube, a student-led CubeSat project for Space Situational Awareness developed at the University of Strathclyde, aims to contribute to the development of D4D through its secondary payload, providing data on the aerothermal conditions and forces experienced by the satellite during fragmentation upon atmospheric re-entry. The experiment is underpinned by the satellite’s stability during re-entry and until fragmentation, which will allow for data to be transmitted in real time. This paper focusses on the configuration of the solar arrays of the CubeSat and on its attitude during re-entry. Their effect on the operating conditions of the components necessary for recording and transmitting data is explored through a low fidelity model constructed within ESA’s Debris Risk Assessment and Mitigation Analysis (DRAMA) tool. Temperature data obtained from this model during the aerothermal demise of the solar panels are also used as a reference point for the design of the thermal protection system. This analysis will advise the requirements of the deorbit manoeuvre of the CubeSat, the alignment of its solar panels for re-entry, and of the thermal protection components necessary for the success of the experiment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2022
Event73rd International Astronautical Congress - Paris, France
Duration: 18 Sept 202222 Dec 2022


Conference73rd International Astronautical Congress
Internet address


  • STRATHcube mission
  • CubeSat
  • atmospheric re-entry


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