Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD.


This thesis investigates a CubeSat design that uses Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components to capture, store, process, and downlink collected terrestrial weather data at resolutions near stat-of-the-art. The weather phenomena to be detected and transmitted in a timely manner are cloud formations, wind profiles, ocean currents, sea state, lightning, temperature profiles, and precipitation. It is hypothesized and shown that the proposed design will provide an improvement on the current U.S. tactical weather collection satellites because of the anticipated increased reliability and lowered cost to build and maintain the proposed CubeSat constellation. The methodology employed a multi-phase approach through the collective research of a team of Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) master’s students to develop an initial satellite and constellation scheme, with my contributions as the payload lead. This thesis documents the initial satellite design and, through my risk reduction effort to refine the payload, proposes a final payload configuration to meet tactical weather requirements. The final payload includes three types of sensors and is used in 198 identical CubeSats of a LEO Walker constellation. This research has the potential to increase the reliability of weather data collection for the military, while at a low cost.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number