Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Cube satellites, also referred to as CubeSats, were developed in the late twentieth century, and have since served as a cost-effective method of gathering out-of-this-world data. The development of these small-scale satellites have helped universities and small companies worldwide to perform important experiments, as well as gather critical data in order to provide for further space exploration. Cube satellites are designed to be self-sustaining, by using solar cells to capture impinging thermal energy and convert it to power to be consumed by the electronics housed within the satellite itself. In order to function properly, these cells are extended in an array normal to the spacecraft, which are deployed automatically after separation from the launch vehicle. According to a study performed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), solar panels are the most common cause of overall system failure when it comes to CubeSats. This calls for the need of a low-cost, reliable solar array deployment system. An understanding of the requirements for such a deployment system was provided by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, individuals with relevant experience, and the exploration of designs that are currently in use. As a result of this research, it was determined that multiple tape-spring hinges along with a bracket and ribbon cable would best meet the needs of the customer. This simple design provides a low-cost, reliable deployment system with minimal volume and mass requirements, while allowing for wires to traverse the gap between solar arrays in order to provide electrical power to the satellite.



Faculty Mentor

Rees Fullmer

Departmental Honors Advisor

V. Dean Adams