Analysis of a CubeSat Orbit Using STK

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Virginia Tech


This thesis presents an analysis of CubeSat orbits for both Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) missions using Systems Tool Kit (STK). The study focuses on analyzing communication, power generation, and radiation exposure while considering various factors. The analysis is based on the 3U CubeSat called UT-ProSat-1, developed by students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) for an upcoming mission. The orbit size and mass adjustments were made for the LEO mission to enhance communication performance. The influence of solar activity on CubeSat lifetime and access time was examined, highlighting the significance of mass and solar activity. The impact of increasing orbit size on communication time was analyzed, emphasizing the trade-offs between mass, orbit size, and communication performance. The SSO mission prioritized power generation optimization resulted in generating sufficient power for the nominal phase of the mission. It also considered the effects of the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) on radiation exposure. Effective risk management of increasing the shielding for the avionics were emphasized which consequently will stabilize the orbit and prolong its lifetime. Additionally, temperature dynamics were investigated, indicating the need for further analysis considering heat dissipation and utilizing a more accurate CubeSat model. The insights gained from this study contribute to the improved the performance of CubeSats and validate the mission results, providing valuable information for successful missions in the future.



Vehicle Controls, Orbital Mechanics, STK