Design of Laser Communications Module for Small Satellites

Metadata Updated: February 28, 2019

The requirements of a nanosatellite lasercom terminal will be examined, and appropriate hardware will be identified for staged pointing control. The components to be selected include attitude control actuators (reaction wheels and magnetorquers), attitude control sensors (options include sun sensors, earth horizon sensors, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and star trackers), and a fast steering mirror suitable for the application, which has already been identified. Once the appropriate components have been identified and characterized, a 6 degree-of-freedom simulation will be completed in a Matlab/Simulink environment to model the performance of the hardware on orbit. This simulation will ensure that the desired pointing accuracies will be achieved.

After verification in simulation, the attitude control hardware requires validation in a laboratory environment. The MIT Space Systems Lab has developed a 3 degree-of freedom air-bearing testbed to test the attitude determination and control subsystem of nanosatellites. By assembling a representative satellite with real hardware components, the attitude control hardware and software can be tested together by utilizing this setup. Integrating the fast steering mirror into this setup will allow a hardware-in-the-loop demonstration of the control system.

The final stage of this work is focused on a successful on-orbit demonstration. CubeSats are a popular type of nanosatellite for academic applications, since their small size enables rideshare opportunities for launch. The end-to-end development of a CubeSat typically takes two years or less, and they can be launched relatively cheaply as a secondary payload. The lasercom module developed will be integrated onto a CubeSat to apply the system in practice.

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: U.S. Government Work

Downloads & Resources


Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date February 28, 2019

Metadata Source

Harvested from NASA Data.json

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date February 28, 2019
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
Unique Identifier TECHPORT_91621
Maintainer Email
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id 719b6ef9-247a-470b-8296-3132de7204c7
Harvest Source Id 39e4ad2a-47ca-4507-8258-852babd0fd99
Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Data First Published 2018-08-01
Homepage URL
Data Last Modified 2018-07-19
Program Code 026:027
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 64e0d96dc95f540c019df8369a4469a8d8abcc4b
Source Schema Version 1.1

Didn't find what you're looking for? Suggest a dataset here.