Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Jonathan T. Black, PhD


The cost and schedule advantages small satellites have over larger legacy systems have been studied, but there has been very little experimentation performed to determine whether small satellites can actually deliver the capabilities of larger spacecraft. To date, a desired operational capability has not been fully realized by a scalable satellite design. Advances in sensor technology have led to significant reductions in size, weight, and power (SWaP) presenting an opportunity to exploit the evolution of space operations by using small satellites to perform specific missions. This paper describes a methodology that maps a specific set of large space vehicle capabilities to CubeSats. The process examines the utility of advanced sensors. Space weather has been identified as an excellent mission area to exploit the potential of small satellites. Advances in micro-electronics have produced sensors with reduced SWaP, making them viable test subjects. Mapping capabilities to a single or constellation of small satellites, could provide solutions and affordable options to the adverse challenges facing space operations. The methodology developed here selects sensor of the National Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Space Environmental Sensor Suite (SESS) and maps them to a CubeSat illustrating a small satellite can perform an operational mission.

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