CubeSat Laboratory

The Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory

Home of the CubeSat Developers Workshop


The Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory 2018–2019


For more details please click here


The Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory (CPCL) is a multidisciplinary independent research lab. CPCL is the CubeSat development team of Cal Poly, an originator and leader for launches in the CubeSat community. The team consists of staff and students majoring in Mechanical, Electrical, Software, Aerospace, Materials, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, as well as Physics, Business, Journalism and Graphic Design. CPCL has given Cal Poly students a robust learn-by-doing experience for almost two decades, supporting students to be day-one ready professionals.

Student involvement in CPCL projects is key to all activities. Cal Poly students have developed and launched twelve spacecraft since the start of the program, with multiple more in various stages of development.

CPCL was an early leader in the CubeSat industry and since then has strived to develop a diverse knowledge base in all aspects of the small satellite ecosystem. CPCL has used that know-how to develop future generations of engineers, while developing successful working partnerships with a variety of community contributors. We look forward to continuing this role in the industry and further expanding the boundaries of space education and exploration.

Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory At a Glance: 

  • Laboratory created in 1999
  • CubeSat standard established in 2004
  • $25+ million in sponsored projects
  • 1,000+ students trained from all colleges
  • 12 in-house developed and launched CubeSats
  • 175+ CubeSat missions supported


Cal Poly is developing a program that will provide CubeSat developers with the knowledge and experience gained from the many missions Cal Poly has been a part of. The lessons learned from those missions will be used to develop educational materials that will help developers avoid common pitfalls that have sunk previous missions. The goal is to increase success rates for all CubeSat programs across the board. The Best Practices program will begin by creating a database of gathered knowledge as an easily searchable reference. Cal Poly is also putting together a training program that will teach developers all aspects of CubeSat design, testing, program organization, licensing, and more. Trainings can be geared for experience levels ranging from beginner to novice.


Contact Us

Have any questions? Contact us at or visit our websites and 



Vibe Testing

The CubeSat Laboratory operates an electro-dynamic shaker table capable of producing the required G-forces felt during launch. The vibration table is capable of producing a total sine vector force rating of 6000 pounds as it operates between 5 and 3000 Hertz. All P-PODs and CubeSats are thoroughly tested to simulate extreme launch conditions. 


T-VAC Testing

The Cal Poly CubeSat team performs regular thermal vacuum testing on all flight hardware to simulate behavior of materials in different environments. Donated by Northrop Grumman, the vacuum chamber can be held at 10^-5 torr and the test articles are heated and cooled by a copper shroud.


Clean Room

Equipped with 224 sq ft – 100,000 class clean room, the Cal Poly CubeSat team is able to build and integrate CubeSats and P-PODs on campus. Quality Assurance is maintained during all clean room procedures to allow for a consistent and reliable product. All personnel are required to wear protective lab suits and hair nets while working in the clean room. 

Shock Testing

The CubeSat team uses a drop hammer impact table to simulate the extreme launch shock environment, which P-PODs and CubeSats may experience. This shock table allows for precise, calibrated impact testing to ensure the proper simulation of a launch environment.


Helmholtz Cage

Built and assembled last year as a part of a thesis, the Cal Poly CubeSat team now has access to a Helmholtz cage for testing hardware in electromagnetically controlled environment. The cage has a minimum field of 10 nanoTeslas. 

Read more about the Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory testing and facilities here.


NASA TechRise Challenge

The future engineers project is part of the NASA TechRise Challenge where high school students design and launch an experiment on a weather balloon. The Cal Poly CubeSat Lab is working on the supporting electronics that will be launched alongside the experiments and must balance ease of use with functionality to ensure the competition goes smoothly. The project provides an excellent opportunity for students to give back to the engineering community and support the next generation of engineers. 


Spinnaker1 (CP-14) is being developed by Cal Poly CubeSat Lab and Purdue University. It is a 1U CubeSat with a deployable drag sail payload that will be deployed into a low earth orbit (LEO). The primary mission objective for Spinnaker1 is to provide flight qualification for the dragsail and determine its viability. The deployable drag sail is designed to take advantage of the aerodynamic drag forces experienced by the spacecraft near its orbital perigee.


The AMDROHP mission is a technology demonstration for an Additively Manufactured Deployable Radiator with Oscillating Heat Pipes (AMDROHP). This mission is a collaboration with Cal State LA (principal investigator), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory. In addition to performing radiator validating experiments, the AMDROHP mission will serve as the foundation of CubeSat capabilities at Cal State LA and an educational opportunity for several graduate and undergraduate students. The development of this radiator technology will aid addressing the thermal challenges presented by high powered CubeSats on future lunar missions. AMDROHP was recently selected for conditional acceptance to the CubeSat Launch Initiative program in March 2022.


Star Tracker

Star Tracker is a collaborative effort with Lockheed-Martin to develop a low-cost star tracker. Star trackers are highly accurate attitude sensors, and a critical element of missions with strict attitude requirements. Unfortunately, commercially available star trackers can be prohibitively expensive for small-scale missions. Our project is attempting to develop a high-accuracy star tracker that doesn’t break the budget of our missions. So far, we’ve developed in-house software, designed a baffle, and conducted night sky tests with multiple different cameras and lenses.


PESPI (Poly ElectroSpray Propulsion STMD Integration) is a two-year collaboration project with UC Irvine, UCLA, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that will produce a design for an electrospray thruster module. This module will enable technology for a range of SmallSat-based lunar missions and offer significant advancements over existing technologies. Currently, the Cal Poly CubeSat Lab (CPCL) has two main tasks: to develop a CubeSat-class electrical power subsystem (EPS) for operation of the thrusters and to design a spacecraft using the CubeSat platform for a reference mission. The design will include different types of thrusters, and the EPS must be able to switch between two power thrusters that have different operating characteristics. The EPS must also be able to individually control the different thrusters as well as control a solenoid valve that controls the flow of the propellant.

Groundstation Network

The team commands and downlinks data autonomously through a Cal Poly developed ground station network which is capable of autonomous operation of several ground stations in multiple geographic locations. PolySat currently has three operational ground stations on campus at Cal Poly; Hertz is composed of a UHF Yagi antenna and VHF Vagi antenna; Marconi is a dual-phased UHF Yagi array; and Friis is a quad-phased UHF Yagi array.


Benchmark Space

Benchmark Space Systems

Booth Times: April 27th – 29th at 8:00 – 9:30AM and 2:00 – 4:00PM PST 

Watch Here:

About Benchmark Space Systems:

Our mission is to improve yours. Founded in 2017 and headed for multiple in-space missions in 2021, Benchmark Space Systems is positioned to be your in-space mobility partner. We are focused on improving accessibility to propulsion capability by providing the most cost-effective propulsion solutions for your Small Satellite mission needs: from simple orbit adjustments and regulatory compliance to high-agility maneuvers and RPO. Benchmark Space’s innovations have been specifically designed to improve safety and capability for spacecraft ranging from 1U through ESPA class. Our short lead times, ease of integration, and unpressurized launch enabled by our patented On-Demand Pressurization System have been important differentiators for our customers. Our team is eager to explore how one of our several best-in-class products may improve your next mission!


Integrated Propulsion Systems:


Starling Propulsion System

Benchmark Space Systems’ Starling system offering was developed to provide the benefits of reliable, high-precision positioning and control capability with unprecedented safety and affordability

This innovative system uses inert, non-toxic powdered fuel that is filled before shipping and remains inert until a pressurization command is triggered on-orbit. The ability to fill, ship, store, and inhibit an assembled & fueled Starling is “a game changer” for lowering launch manifest and operational costs, improving safety and reliability over alternatives, and providing a path to ISS compatibility.

Additive manufacturing on primary components delivers unbeatable lead time, making this the premier propulsion solution for your next CubeSat mission.


Halcyon Propulsion System

Benchmark Space Systems’ Halcyon delivers a non-toxic (‘green’), high thrust propulsion system to the small satellite market. Our innovations address challenges with alternative systems in this class:  lead time, launch safety, and power consumption.

Our proprietary on-demand pressurization technology and non-toxic propellants will ease your launch manifest and expand your on-orbit capabilities.

Halcyon is offered in monopropellant HTP or dual mode HTP + Butane creating the most innovative small satellite solution for your high thrust, or pulse-mode operational needs.

First mission is launching in 2021.


Peregrine Propulsion System

Benchmark Space Systems’ Peregrine delivers a non-toxic (‘green’), high thrust propulsion system to the small satellite market. Our innovations address challenges with alternative systems in this class:  lead time, launch safety, and power consumption.

Our proprietary on-demand pressurization technology and non-toxic propellants will ease your launch manifest and expand your on-orbit capabilities. Additionally, Benchmark Space’s patent pending micromixing technique eliminates the need for catalyst beds, a high cost, long-lead component used in other chemical propulsion systems.

With in-house components designed for additive manufacturing, Benchmark offers an industry-best performance and value.          





Mitsui Bussan Aerospace Co

Mitsui Bussan Aerospace Co., Ltd.

Virtual Exhibit Booth:

April 27 @ 8:00AM-9:30AM PST | 2:00PM-4:00PM PST

April 28 @ 8:00AM-9:30AM PST | 2:00PM-4:00PM PST

April 29 @ 8:00AM-9:30AM PST | 2:00PM-4:00PM PST


We are looking forward to talking with you!


Please feel free to contact us for further information.


E-mail :

Website :

About Our Services

Mitsui Bussan Aerospace offers various types of services for CubeSat developers.

(1) CubeSat deployment service from ISS KIBO Module

We were selected by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) as an official service provider for the CubeSat deployment service from KIBO the Japanese experiment module on ISS. This is the first ISS privatization project given by JAXA and we are working with JAXA very closely to execute our mission. We are able to provide satellite rideshare launch opportunities to the ISS and deployment service  from the ISS for up to 6U size CubeSat and 50kg class satellites.

(2) One Stop Service

We can provide all necessary services to the customers who want to use satellites for commercial purposes and scientific experiments. We also provide relevant support services such as design and development of satellites, launch and deployment, frequency registration and satellite operations.

(3) Rocket Rideshare Service as a Spaceflight’s Agency

Spaceflight, Inc., the leading global launch services provider, offers the most diverse portfolio of launch options and comprehensive mission management services have teamed to expand their business footprint. We and Spaceflight have reached to conclude an exclusive agency contract in order to make sure each role in the sales activities in the global market.

(4) ISS Experimental Opportunity

We can introduce experimental opportunities inside ISS, such as Japanese experimental module KIBO. KIBO is the science laboratory to conduct various experiments under micro-gravity environment. We will assist you to realize your plan in the ISS mission.

Our Corporate Information

Over 30 years since being founded in 1982, Mitsui Bussan Aerospace Co., Ltd. has acted as a dedicated aerospace and defense trading company to contribute to the development of Japan’s aviation industry and the improvement of national security through the import and sales of helicopters, aircraft and defense-related equipment.
The company now goes beyond import and sales, leveraging information, logistics, financial and other technologies to provide business solutions that meet the wide-ranging needs of customers in aviation, defense and space.

Mitsui Bussan Aerospace arranges/negotiates with vendors for price, contract term, export control and other process on behalf of customers.

Brief company profile:

  • Established in April, 1982
  • A 100% owned subsidiary of Mitsui & Co., specialized in sales and marketing in aviation and aerospace fields
  • Approx. 120 employees as of April, 2021
  • Sales amount approx. US$585M – as of March 2020
  • Overseas Offices

-US Subsidiary: Dallas, TX

-European Liaison Office: Milano, Italy

  • Space business department was established on July 1st, 2019


Tekko Bldg. 22F, 8-2, Marunouchi 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan



April 27, 2021 @ 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM|

April 28, 2021 @ 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM – EU/Asia | 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

April 29, 2021 @ 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM – EU/Asia | 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Virtual Exhibit Booth:


Jeroen Rotteveel


One of the founders of ISISPACE and currently the CEO of the company. His responsibilities include:

  • Strategy
  • Business Development and Institutional Markets
  • Internal Technology Roadmapping
  • Company Finance

Abe Bonnema

Director of Marketing & Sales/Co-Founder

One of the founders of ISISPACE and Director of the company. His responsibilities include:
  • Marketing and Sales
  • ISILAUNCH Services
  • Strategy Development

Konark Goel

Business Development Engineer

Business Developer at ISISPACE, background in Space Systems Engineering. His responsibilities include:

  • R&D collaborations
  • Satellite Platform and Turn-key Space Mission Sales

Kevin Segura

Sales Manager

Experienced in technical sales and science missions, with background in Aerospace engineering. His responsibilities include:
  • Custom satellite buses
  • Turnkey satellite missions
  • Capacity building programs

ISISPACE Group is a vertically integrated small satellite company, focused on providing high value, cost effective space solutions by making use of the latest innovative technologies. The company specializes in satellites ranging from 1 to 30 kilograms, providing contract research, innovative small satellite parts, sub-systems, platforms and turnkey space solutions to a broad range of customers. Based in Delft, Netherlands – ISISPACE employs over 125 specialists and maintains a development branch office in Somerset West, South Africa.

The vertical integration of nanosatellite activities within ISISPACE Group ensures that customer specific requirements can be accommodated, and flight hardware delivered quickly when customers are faced with a short delivery schedule. A large multi-disciplinary team enables the company to provide hands-on training for its customers, often in cooperation with educational partners in small satellite engineering. Through ISILAUNCH, its launch services subsidiary, it launches all sizes of small satellites. More info here.


Would you like to know more about our solutions? Take a look at our brochures here!

3U CubeSat ISISPACE Group6U CubeSat ISISPACE Group12/16U CubeSat ISISPACE Group

The TANGO mission concept developed by a consortium including ISISPACE Group as mission prime, and partners Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and 3D PLUS. The pair of 16U spacecraft host complex atmospheric science instruments for the monitoring of CH4 and NO2 emission on an urban or industrial scale. The spacecraft bus features redundant avionics for fault tolerance. This is seen as a major step in improving the robustness of spacecraft that use CubeSat and COTS-based equipment.

CubeSim - Satellite Simulator

CubeSim is an ISISPACE tool aimed at empowering satellite flight software development and testing, as well as making it entirely hardware independent. Software development is unfortunately too often hindered by hardware late-deliveries or low-availability. In addition, debugging on embedded hardware does have limitations in terms of debugging features and backtracing. Hard faults on embedded systems are often hard to catch and analyze, especially during software long-duration testing.


In a satellite, flight software runs on the OBC (on-board flight computer). The OBC in turn brokers memory and communication interfaces so that software can interact with radios, payloads and data.
Most of the code composing flight software is actually portable, which means that it could run on any platform – OBC or PC – as opposed to the CPU peripherals which are very specific to the chip being used.
The philosophy of CubeSim is to take advantage of that portability and simply replace or wrap the portions that are not. The diagrams below shows general FSW architecture, where OBC platform-specific libraries are replaced by a completely API-compatible set of libraries made to run on a PC. This way, flight software can be compiled either for an OBC or a PC running Windows/Linux.


That way, our embedded software engineers become able to run and debug flight software from their PC, benefitting from best-in-class development tools for multi-threaded environments, memory analytics and code coverage.

In-place library replacement


Regarding the replacement of hardware-specific parts of the software – hence non-portable – several options are available and offer different advantages, mostly regarding serial drivers:

  • Using USB-to-UART or USB-to-I2C adapters enables the development of software drivers and connecting to real hardware, locally or remotely,
  • Simulating fully or partly a device for pure software simulation, or fault injection,
  • Using empty function calls,

Deep functional analysis

The most difficult part of software testing often relies in functional testing, since it cannot be carried by unit testing and relies on sensors / actuators in a closed-loop-system.
Complete satellite mocking can in this case become a very efficient way of testing the behavior of the system:

  • Physics of the space environment is simulated,
  • Sensors use a model accounting for the physics propagator state,
  • Actuators also use a model and provide inputs to the physics propagator,

In this scenario, any satellite parameter can easily be exposed to the user in a way that it can be deeply analyzed and understood, taking into account its past and its evolution.
Tabulated outputs are generated and allow using analysis software to verify a healthy behavior in any simulated start conditions (eclipse, high spin rates, etc.).

Vincent Gollé​

Embedded software developer specialized in complex systems. His responsibilities include:

  • Develop mission-critical software,
  • Design Cubesat on-board computers.



Virtual Exhibit Booth Link:

April 27, 2021 @ 8:00AM–9:30AM PT | April 28, 2021 @ 8:00AM–9:30AM PT | April 29, 2021 @ 8:00AM–9:30AM PT

Hey – thanks for dropping by NanoAvionics virtual booth! With over 85 accomplished CubeSat missions and commercial projects, our team has definitely something to share what relates to hardware, software and satellite mission development. Meet our team attending CubeSat Developers Workshop: 

F. Brent Abbott

CEO, Nanoavionics us

Brent has more than 20 years of experience in the satellite industry, with senior roles at Honeywell, AAC/Clyde Space and Surrey Satellite Technologies US, where he started the hosted payload program with OTB-1

Casey Kelby

Business development manager

Casey is a business development manager at NanoAvionics US. Prior to joining NanoAvionics, Casey gathered 7 years of experience in supporting business development and marketing in the commercial sector.

Augustinas Lubys

business development manager

Augustinas is a business development specialist at NanoAvionics, building successful relationships with customers from Europe and the Middle East. 

Zilvinas Kvedaravicius

business development director

Žilvinas brings a successful track record of business development and sales from early commercialization stages of NanoAvionics.  He works with all main markets and supervises NanoAvionics distributors in key regions. 

About NanoAvionics

NanoAvionics is a smallsat bus manufacturer and mission integrator currently based in five locations across the US, UK, and Lithuania. The company’s efforts are focused on enabling critical satellite functions and optimising their hardware, launch, and satellite operation costs by providing end-to-end small satellite solutions – ranging from single missions to constellations. Its core engineering team has implemented over 85 successful satellite missions and commercial projects during the past several years. With modularity as the fundamental principle of NanoAvionics systems’ architecture, NanoAvionics provides economic viability to a wide range of small satellite constellation-based missions, businesses, and organizations worldwide.

Learn about our flagship CubeSat bus M6P and its subsystems:

Download Product Information

Infinity Avionics

Reconfigurable Processors and Engineering Cameras for Space

Virtual Exhibit Booth:

April 27–29, 2021 @ 2PM-4PM PT


Reconfigurable FPGA Based Processors

Infinity Avionics processing platforms are reconfigurable and flight-proven computers for space missions. These processors can be used as the main flight computer on the satellite, as a payload controller or data processor or for any other application where a reconfigurable FPGA SoC may be advantageous. Combining the versatility of an FPGA with the ease of use of an ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller in silicon, Infinity Avionics Processors are suitable for a myriad of applications. They are easy to integrate with your application thanks to their industry smallest form factor (smaller than a credit card!).

Infinity Avionics provides 2 processor solutions


  • Flight Proven
  • Designed to tolerate LEO radiation
  • Designed as application-agnostic plug cards
  • FPGA SoC with Cortex M3
  • Small form factor
  • Low power consumption
  • Reconfigurable interfaces

Learn more about our Perun Processing Platform,

Engineering Cameras

Infinity SelfieCam is a low resolution camera ideal for deployment monitoring or low resolution earth imaging. On-board JPEG encoding enables small image sizes to support easy data downlink even with a weaker communication link. SelfieCam is ideal to get visual feedback on satellite deployments and spacecraft orientation.


  • Flight Proven
  • Designed to tolerate LEO radiation
  • 1024 X 768 resolution with onboard JPEG encoding
  • Small form factor
  • 40 degree horizontal field of view at 500 mm


The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation

Come by to find out what we do, and talk about what we can do together!

Low-cost “LTM-1” CubeSat radio module

STEM education opportunities including hosted experiments

Communications satellite missions providing worldwide access

Open source development of CubeSat systems

Missed us? Email:

Jerry Buxton

Vice president engineering

Jerry leads AMSAT’s all-volunteer Engineering Team of amateur radio satellite enthusiasts and professionals based in the U.S.

Following AMSAT’s first-ever CubeSats, a series of five 1U satellites known as “Fox-1”, AMSAT’S “GOLF” series of 3U CubeSats will reach for much higher orbits and wider radio coverage footprints, also hosting STEM education payloads.

AMSAT’S ASCENT program provides opportunities for independent open source development of new amateur radio satellite communications to be part of future GOLF, Fox Plus, and subsequent satellites.

Jonathan Brandenburg

Jonathan Brandenburg

Assistant Vice President, Engineering

Jonathan Brandenburg, KF5IDY, is AMSAT’s new Assistant Vice President — Engineering. Jonathan oversees a new program tentatively named “Fox Plus.”

The popular Fox-1 series of 1U LEO CubeSats host student STEM experiments from Vanderbilt University, Penn State Erie, Virginia Tech, and the University of Iowa.

Fox Plus provides a refresh of the presence of LEO ‘Easy-Sat’ type communications, carrying student STEM experiments and adding AMSAT radio experiments as well.

Jonathan intends to target frequent deliveries of Fox Plus CubeSats into orbit, and wide use of open-source in the program.

Introductory Engineering Video



Greater Orbit, Larger Footprint:
The AMSAT GOLF Program

The goal of the GOLF program is to work in steps through a series of increasingly capable spacecraft, developing skills and systems for higher orbits that provide wider coverage and longer access times to the entire Amateur Radio satellite community worldwide.

Common design elements for the GOLF series will include:

    • 3U CubeSats
    • Deployable solar panels
    • 3-Axis attitude control
    • SDR (Software Designed Radio)
    • RT IHU (Radiation Tolerant IHU Design)
    • C band (5.6 GHz) uplink and X band (10 GHz) downlink (nicknamed “Five & Dime”)

Fox Plus

AMSAT’s Fox Plus intends to provide a continuous Low Earth Orbit satellite presence through a refresh of AMSAT’s Fox-1 FM Satellite.

Initially using the basic Fox-1 bus design, Fox Plus provides an opportunity to refresh the presence of LEO “Easy-Sat” communications.

Fox Plus also continues our practice of hosting student science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiments that provide students access to space, while sharing their experiment results with the worldwide network of amateur radio operators capturing the satellite and experiment data telemetry. This open sharing of telemetry data transmitted in the clear essentially extends the classroom across the globe for all to observe and learn, accessing the same results that the student creators will have.

We will also have the ability to fly our own radio experiments, bringing in new volunteer engineers to develop the new transceiver and power systems needed due end-of-life for many of the original Fox-1 components. 

ARDC Support of GOLF:
3U Spaceframe Development

AMSAT received a generous grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) for the development of a 3U spaceframe with deployable solar panel arrays. This standardized 3U CubeSat space frame will be used in AMSAT’s GOLF series of satellites as well as a new generation of low earth orbit FM satellites. The spaceframe design will be available to the public under an open access agreement.

Central to the development of the 3U spaceframe, AMSAT will build three flight-ready spaceframes for an upcoming series of satellites with potentially enhanced flight control, payload and communication capabilities.

The need for a 3U spaceframe with deployable solar panels goes back to the original design requirements for the Greater Orbit, Larger Footprint (GOLF) satellites that would return AMSAT to Highly Elliptical Orbits (HEO).



The Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, or AMSAT, is a worldwide group of Amateur Radio Operators (Hams). It was formed in the District of Columbia in 1969 as an educational organization.

For over 50 years, AMSAT groups in North America and elsewhere have played a key role in significantly advancing the state of the art in space science, space education, and space technology. The work now being done by AMSAT volunteers throughout the world will continue to have far-reaching, positive effects on the future of both Amateur Radio, as well as other governmental, scientific and commercial activities in the final frontier.

AMSAT’s goal is to foster Amateur Radio’s participation in space research and communication. The Organization was founded to continue the efforts, begun in 1961, by Project OSCAR, a west coast USA-based group which built and launched the very first Amateur Radio satellite, OSCAR, on December 12, 1961, barely four years after the launch of Russia’s first Sputnik.

Today, the “home-brew” flavor of these early Amateur Radio satellites lives on, as most of the hardware and software now flying on even the most advanced AMSAT satellites is still largely the product of volunteer effort and donated resources. Though we are fond of traditions our designs and technology continue to push the outside of the envelope.

Join AMSAT today at



Virtual Exhibit Booth:

April 27, 2021 @ 8AM-10AM & 2:30PM-4PM PT | April 28, 2021 @ 8AM-3:30PM PT | April 29, 2021 @ 8AM-2PM & 3PM-4PM


As a first mover in building in-space infrastructure services, Momentus is at the forefront of the commercialization of space. With an experienced team of aerospace, propulsion, and robotics engineers, Momentus has developed a cost-effective and energy efficient in-space transport system based on water plasma propulsion technology. Momentus has in-place service agreements with private satellite companies, government agencies, and research organizations.

Negar Feher

VP of Business development

Negar is responsible for sales and marketing at Momentus. She has over 15 years of experience from past technical and managerial roles at some of the world’s most renowned space companies.


Jean-Philippe Divo

VP of international BD

Jean-Philippe is responsible for international sales at Momentus. He has occupied multiple positions in engineering, program and supply chain management with a background in aerospace engineering and an Executive MBA.


Martina Lofqvist

Solutions Architect

Martina manages sales in Europe and Africa, supporting activities from both the BD and engineering teams. She has a background in software engineering with experience in CubeSat development.


Ian Murray

SOLutions architect

Ian supports the sales- and engineering teams at Momentus. He has experience in both the space- and aviation industries. 


About Momentus

The next industrial revolution is right over the horizon. The opportunities for growth offered by space-based applications are virtually infinite, and we’re at the center of it all. Momentus will be providing the infrastructure services necessary to usher in the coming era of space-based prosperity. With in-space transportation as our core service, we’re laying the tracks for a robust, thriving economy just a few hundred kilometers overhead.

Learn more about our services here!

Reserve your ride here! 

Momentus - Vigoride

More Information About Momentus


We know that daring problems require daring solutions. While our competitors take more conservative, proven approaches, we are experimenting with never-been-done-before technology to solve the greatest challenges of our time. Our team knows that working at Momentus means more than building innovative technology, it means creating an entirely new market in the space economy. We are level-headed, business-minded strategic thinkers intent on providing immediate value while simultaneously preparing for the vast possibilities of the future. If this sounds like you, we should talk.


Our transport and service vehicles, or “rides”, are at the core of all of our services. Combining novel propulsion technology with reliable components with eons of flight heritage, we are developing a suite of spacecraft that will be capable of servicing satellites and cargo of all sizes.

Learn more here!

AAC Clyde Space

Company Name

Exhibit Zoom Link:

April 27, 2021 @ 10AM-12PM PT | April 28, 2021 @ 2PM-4PM PT

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Parallel shaftlayout was chosen for the following reasons:

  • Createsacompact layout and housing design.
  • Utilizes helical gearing to maintain better tooth contact between meshing gears. The helical gears were also selected for noise reduction at high speed operation.

Other design choices to note:

  • Rectangularhousing uses flat plates bolted together for ease of assembly and manufacturing.
  • Tapered roller bearings to help support the axial loads produced by the helical gears.
  • Material choice of HT 8620 for gears to provide the strength of gears without oversized face widths.
  • Shafts of HT 4140 material for good machinability and strength.
  • Axial forces can bedirected into shoulders on shafts while the vehicle moves forward.


The solid blue line shows the torque output curve of the REMY HVH250-115 motor to be used with our drivetrain.

Theoreticalvehicle top speed and traction capabilities which account for various vehicle parameters.

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Torque test set up with the input wrench of the right and the output on the left. A digital torque sensor was used to measure the torque at the input and output shafts.

The linear correlation of torque input to torque output features error bars to indicate the uncertainty of the measurements.


Weight -89.4 lbs
Overall Reduction -8.04:1
Dimensions -19.25” X 9.25” X 12.5”

Custom Components

  • Aluminum Bearing Mounts
  • Aluminum Housing Plates
  • Helical Gears –8620 Case Hardened Steel
  • Heat Treated 4140 Steel Shafts
  • Steel Housing Reinforcement Blocks

Stock Components

  • Ford 8.8” Traction-Lok Limited Slip
  • SKF and Timken Tapered Roller Bearings
  • SKF Rotary Shaft Seals

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SharpellTechnologies is currently “gutting” the interior of their 2002 BMW 330ci test vehicle, to the extent where the backseats have now been removed. This area will be utilized to house the battery pack modules as well as the electricmotor that our drivetrain will be coupled to. Our drivetrain will be mounted in between the rear axle shafts of the prototype vehicle,allowing for power to be transmitted to the rear tires.

Nicholas Belsten – MIT

Open-Source Versatile Amplifier-Control Electronics and GUI for HelmHoltz Cages

We are the MIT Space Telecommunications Astronomy and Radiation Laboratory (STAR Lab). We achieve new scientific results from sensors on distributed space-based platforms. We innovate and use new commercial components to address technological challenges for future science missions, reducing cost and risk.

Nicholas Belsten

Graduate research assistant

Nick Belsten is a second year graduate student at MIT’s department of Aeronautics and Astronautics working in the Space Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation Laboratory (STAR Lab). Nick graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Physics from Vanderbilt University in 2019. For the last two years, Nick has worked on a pair of satellites to observe the radio aurora, and leads the effort to implement and calibrate high-accuracy COTS magnetometers for auroral space science.

Dr. Kerri Cahoy

Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Kerri Cahoy leads MIT’s STAR Lab, and is Co-Director of the MIT Small Satellite Center. Kerri received an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in 2002, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in 2008. Kerri’s research interests include wavefront control systems for exoplanet exploration and free-space, laser communication, spacecraft radio systems for space weather and planetary atmospheric sensing, and nanosatellites.

Open-Source Versatile Amplifier-Control Electronics and GUI for Helmholtz Cages

1. Introduction

Helmholtz cages are used to test magnetometers and magnetic attitude control systems in a laboratory environment. While some commercial products are available, CubeSat development programs at many academic institutions have kept costs low by designing the coils, electronics, and control circuitry from scratch.

We have created a standard low-cost electronic HelmHoltz cage control system that can be implemented, modified, and improved as an open-source academic community project.

Figure 1: Picture of MIT SSL Helmholtz cage from Prinkey [1]. This cage was used to test our control electronics implementation

2. Background

The MIT Space Systems Lab (SSL) has a hand-built 3-axis 4-coil Merritt Helmholtz cage with coils that are about 1.5 meters per side [1]. We have targeted this design as an example implementation, though our system can be extended to other cage specifications.

Table 1: MIT SSL Helmholtz Coil Electrical Parameters

Several University-built Helmholtz cages have been reported on in the past, but each tends to use a significantly different coil driver architecture. Once the cost of the physical coils is excluded, the majority of the expense is associated with the large coil driving electronics.

Table 2: Characteristic Architectures with Typical Cost and Example Use

The use of DC-coupled audio amplifiers with a custom programmable source can provide a low-cost implementation of the necessary high-power bidirectional current source. We have used the Crown DC-300 Series II amplifier both for its low-cost and the existence of some prototyping heritage from the work by Prinkey [1].

3. Modular Architecture

Figure 2: Modular System Architecture: Three driver nodes and 2 sensor nodes are used for the SSL Helmholtz Cage, but these numbers can be varied without hardware modifications depending on the end-users needs

Different test platforms have different hardware needs.  The system designed for the MIT SSL Helmholtz cage has targeted two magnetic sensors and three drivers, but the hardware can be stacked to increase the number of sensors and drivers supported. The current design supports up to five sensors and seven drivers.

Picture of electronics stack with root node, three driver nodes, and one sense node
Figure 3: Picture of electronic control hardware with major components labeled

4. Implementation

Driver Implementation

The driver node creates an analog signal used as the input to the DC-coupled audio amplifier. The driver node implements current feedback on the coil current to create the requested current regardless of the gain setting of the external audio amplifier.

Figure 4: Analog feedback circuit for consistent control of the external amplifier

To maintain stability, we use a single dominant pole to reduce high frequency gain before circuit elements contribute 180 degrees of phase shift. We have dominated all other poles in this circuit with the 30 Hz low pass filter, and have found the circuit to be stable under all audio amplifier gains.

Sensor Implementation

We use a PNI RM3100 sensor on a custom carrier board. The carrier board connects to the sensor node on the main electronics stack with a standard RJ-45 terminated Ethernet cable. The twisted pairs of the ethernet cable are used to power the remote sensor and provide communication over a remote-SPI chip (LT6820).

Table 3: RM3100 Magnetometer Specifications [4]
Figure 5: Magnetometer on its carrier board with Ethernet cable plugged in

5. GUI Control

The hardware is all controlled with a Teensy 4.0 Arduino-compatible microcontroller. Code on the microcontroller looks for commands for new current values, and returns field information when a command is received.

A MATLAB GUI provides an easy-to-use interface to the experimenter. The MATLAB GUI connects to the microcontroller over the PC Serial Port.

Figure 6: Protocol for serial interface with microcontroller
Figure 7: Screenshot of GUI with major components labeled

6. Conclusions

Our electronic control system that will work with many DC-coupled audio amplifiers to provide current control to implement a HelmHoltz cage. As a proof of concept, we have retrofitted this control system to the MIT SSL 3-axis 4-coil HelmHoltz cage, but this design can accommodate a wide range of coil designs as long as the needed voltage and current is within the audio amplifiers specifications.

All software and design files including Gerbers and Altium design files for the PCBs used in this project are provided at: Any user interested in using or contributing to the project is encouraged to contact the author at nbelsten at mit dot edu.

Future Work

  • Provide detailed instructions for placing PCB orders
  • Create 3D printable enclosures for the PCBs
  • Improve the refresh rate of the GUI with software optimizations
  • Provide more documentation for extending the microcontroller software with other hardware options
  • Help users at other universities use our design to get their testing done faster


  1. Prinkey, “CubeSat Attitude Control Testbed Design: Merritt 4-Coil per axis Helmholtz Cage and Spherical Air Bearing,” AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) Conference, 2013.
  2. Foley and J. Puig-Suari, “Calibration and characterization of cubesat magnetic sensors using a Helmholtz cage.: a thesis,” thesis, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, 2012.
  3. Q. Bui, W. L. Tew, and S. I. Woods, “AC magnetometry with active stabilization and harmonic suppression for magnetic nanoparticle spectroscopy and thermometry,” Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 128, no. 22, p. 224901, 2020.
  4. “Geomagnetic Sensor: Magnetometer: PNI Sensor Corporation,” PNI Sensor, 23-Mar-2021. [Online]. Available:



Thank you to Rebecca Masterson and Paul Bauer in the Space Systems Laboratory for providing access to the SSL Helmholtz cage.

Thanks to you for reading my poster presentation! Check out the explanatory video above if you haven’t yet.