Surrey Space Centre – UK CubeSail Satellite

CubeSail in Space

CubeSail in Space

CubeSail is an exciting, ground-breaking educational satellite project at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) that hopes to launch into a 680 km Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) from India in December 2014.

CubeSail Layout - Surrey Space Centre

CubeSail Layout – Surrey Space Centre

A key feature is the deployment of a 25 square metre sail structure, which will be used to demonstrate the propulsive effect of solar radiation pressure (i.e. solar sailing) and will demonstrate the de-orbiting capabilities of the sail as a drag augmentation device. CubeSail will be the first launched three-axis stabilised solar sail.

CubeSail will build on small satellite experience at SSC, such as the STRaND-1 nanosatellite, launched on February 25, 2013. Furthermore, the mission critical sail deployment mechanism has undergone an extensive testing and validation process as part of the ESA Gossamer Deorbiter project carried out at SSC. The CubeSail project is also financially and technically supported by world leading industrial partners, Astrium and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

CubeSail is a 3U CubeSat project with a 6kg mass, the mission aims are :

• Technology Demonstration 1: Deployable Sail- The CubeSail satellite will deploy a large (up to 5×5 metre) square aluminised Kapton sail, using novel CFRP deployable booms.

• Technology Demonstration 2: Solar Sailing – The CubeSail mission will demonstrate ‘solar sailing’ in LEO by utilising the solar radiation pressure on the reflective sail to change its orbital inclination.

• Technology Demonstration 3: Attitude Control CubeSail is equipped with 3-axis-stabilizing attitude determination and control system. A novel capability of this system is pointing via a centre-of-mass/centre-of-pressure (COM/COP) offset.

Technology Demonstration 4: Drag Deorbiting -The satellite will deorbit much more quickly than otherwise due to its deployable sail. Satellite pointing will be optimized by the attitude control system for maximum drag.

• Outreach – The satellite will provide beacons for which amateur satellite users and ham radio users will be able to receive. Proposing a 9600 Bit/s AX.25 RC-BPSK downlink  

The IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination Panel have coordinated a downlink frequency of 435.240 MHz.

Watch CubeSail flyby


The AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium takes place on the weekend of July 26-27, 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ, United Kingdom. The event is open to all, further details at