Enabling technologies and practices for low-cost nanosatellite missions

Hannu Leppinen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Small satellites and nanosatellites are currently a topic of interest in academia and industry. Their increasing capabilities enable them to execute tasks previously handled by conventional satellites, and their low cost allows deploying constellations of hundreds or even thousands of small satellites, allowing them to accomplish objectives not previously feasible. Such constellations could provide global satellite internet, perform remote sensing at a high temporal resolution, and monitor shipping and air traffic globally in real-time. Low-cost nanosatellites are also useful educational tools for training spacecraft engineers, and for performing in-orbit technology demonstrations. This dissertation aims to identify and evaluate useful technologies and practices for developing low-cost nanosatellite missions. Some of the approaches have been demonstrated in flight during the Aalto-1 nanosatellite mission, and others have been demonstrated with simulations. Existing literature is also reviewed to evaluate the considered technologies and approaches. Key defining features of small satellites and nanosatellites have been identified from literature, and new approaches for those features are proposed. In this work, a method for deploying nanosatellites to several orbital planes using atmospheric drag is proposed. Component selection for educational nanosatellites is considered, and the method used in Aalto-1 is presented. The autonomous navigation solution of Aalto-1 is described. Benefits and drawbacks of Linux use on-board spacecraft are considered, and results from Aalto-1 are discussed. Ways of combining project management and education in a student satellite project are also studied, and results from Aalto-1 are presented.
Translated title of the contributionMahdollistavia teknologioita ja käytäntöjä edullisille nanosatelliittimissioille
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Praks, Jaan, Supervising Professor
  • Praks, Jaan, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8303-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8304-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • CubeSat
  • nanosatellite
  • small satellite
  • constellation


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