Rapid Space Mission Design, Realization and Deployment

Antti Kestilä

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Space technology has brought a range of existing possibilities for humanity, ranging from navigation, communication and remote sensing to things such as asteroid and planetary prospecting as well as colonization. Development has in part stalled due to a number of reasons. This thesis researches how to potentially accelerate a space mission from drawing board to deployment. The tool used is the fairly recent small satellite concept, which applies standardization, commercial-off-the-shelf components and decreases the satellite's physical dimensions to improve its launch opportunities. The thesis is divided into three main chapters, which combined represent the overall development path that the research took during the thesis. It begins with the introduction of the most popular small satellite platform, the CubeSat, and describes the Aalto-1 CubeSat project. Publication 1 presents the mission of the Aalto-1 CubeSat, where the satellite's three payloads are planned not only to perform technology demonstrations, but also a scientific campaign, giving an example of a CubeSat's capability to perform useful and novel functions. The lessons learned from the project are presented as well as some insight into the management of a student small satellite project and an example subsystem for the CubeSat developed during the project. The project results indicate that one of the most useful applications of CubeSats, or indeed small satellites, is using them in a constellation. This leads to the research presented in the second chapter (Publication 2) which analyzes a range of constellations suitable for a fast revisit time of two hours or less in the polar regions. Some of the main problems were also studied, such as launch opportunities and construction of the constellation, as well as propulsion requirements. The conclusion drawn was that with secondary launch opportunities, in practice propulsion is needed, and that natural precession can alleviate the cost of deltaV needed in exchange for an increased time needed to construct the constellation. The chapter continues with additive manufacturing as a potential way to accelerate especially constellation mission development. This lead to the third major research topic of the thesis - manufacture of space-grade components by combining additive manufacturing and atomic layer deposition. This novel method is presented in Publication 3, in which plastic additive manufactured components are coated with a nanometer-scale uniformly conforming film. The research investigated the benefits in decreasing outgassing with the method, and the results indicate a possible improvement in outgassing, but also an improvement in the structural integrity of the printed component. This research however is just the first attempt in beginning to understand the potential of the method, as both additive manufacturing and atomic layer deposition by themselves have a very large array of applications, and so combining both could possibly realize an even larger array.
Translated title of the contributionNopea avaruustehtävän suunnittelu, toteutus ja käyttöönotto
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Kallio, Esa, Supervisor
  • Leskelä, Markku, Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7477-1
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7476-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • satellite
  • spacecraft
  • aalto-1
  • constellations
  • rapid design
  • rapid manufacturing
  • atomic layer deposition
  • additive manufacturing

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