Small Satellites with Big Impacts: the TUBSAT Program’s BEESAT Quarter U’s

A swarm of quarter U satellites.

As the smallsat industry grows, satellites are getting smaller. CubeSats were developed in multiples of 10x10x10 cm units, commonly in configurations of 1U, 3U or 6U. However, as technology has advanced, they are coming in smaller and smaller sizes. We’re happy to be launching .25U (quarter U) satellites for several customers on some of our upcoming missions.

One of these missions is for the TUBSAT program, launched by the students at the Technical University of Berlin (TUB). The program explores technical capabilities in microsatellite design, particularly focusing on satellite-to-satellite communication.

TU Berlin is launching four quarter-U satellites, BEESAT-5 to BEESAT-8 (Berlin Experimental and Educational Satellite).

These ultra smallsats can be produced very quickly. Frank Baumann, the project director, explains:

“Our design approach is to aggregate several functions in one assembly to reduce the component count of the satellite and to facilitate batch production,” he says. “The challenge to make the most of the available space inside of a quarter-unit CubeSat shows similarities to the one of a smartphone design process.”

The BEESAT team. Director Frank Bauman, second from right.

These ultra smallsats will deploy from the dispenser in rapid succession, with as little as an inch of space between them. They will move the technology of satellite-to-satellite communication, paving the way for new advances. They will attempt to show that many standard satellite functions (communication, navigation, swarm, attitude determination, etc.) can all be compacted into the size of a quarter U satellite. If all the functions can be performed by a satellite the size of a quarter-U, then the rest of the space can be allocated to other payloads. The costs of launch are by weight: reducing the size of satellites reduces the costs of getting to space which in turn opens up access to space and creates more opportunity.

We are looking forward to hearing about their progress after launch. Stay tuned!

You can read about all TUBSAT missions on their webpage here.

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