Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) for CubeSats

Period of Performance: 09/19/2012 - 12/29/2014


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Blue Canyon Technologies LLC
1524 North St
Boulder, CO 80304
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: To overcome the limited Attitude Determination and Control performance of current Cubesats: Design, develop, and fabricate an all-in-one, packaged ADCS prototype unit to provide a pointing accuracy of ± 0.2º, or better, for a 3U cubesat with maximum mass of 8 kg, within half of a 1U volume. During Phase I we implemented a design with a focus on achieving the highest pointing accuracy possible with a Star Camera based ADCS solution. Our main goal during Phase I was to show that a Star Camera attitude solution can achieve the pointing accuracy required by this topic. During this Phase I we not only showed that our solution can achieve the pointing accuracy required, but that XACT can surpass this goal by a wide margin. The Blue Canyon Technologies solution provides a reliable, high-performance design compatible with a variety of cubesat configurations. The BCT XACT architecture leverages a powerful processing core with BCT s micro-Reaction Wheel Assemblies to enable a new generation of highly capable, miniaturized spacecraft. Features include the following: Precise attitude control & knowledge Complete ADCS in a Micro‐package (0.5U) Low jitter micro-reaction wheel design User friendly software for simulation, integration, and customization BENEFIT: Pointing performance is the key to the commercial potential of XACT. The cubesat market has been largely dominated by low-cost and low-performance components that can be used for a limited set of missions. This product will enable cubesats to point with much higher accuracy than any available cubesat attitude control system, and this will allow for a much larger number of mission possibilities. BCT believes that the market potential for cubesats will grow with this corresponding growth in missions. XACT will be ahead of the competition due to this Phase II investment from AFRL, and will be the leader in the market for high-performance cubesat missions. The market size for microsatellites is expected to be $1.5 billion by 2018 according to Business 2.0 marketing estimates, and BCT believes that a large majority of this market can be captured by cubesats if their performance can be increased.