When it is certain that each component is working properly and that it is properly integrated into the other subsystems, we reach a point where all the components need to be assembled to get complete and functional small satellites.
All this takes place in a clean room, which is a necessary installation for the integration of nanosatellites. Imagine an operating room where the entire medical staff is perfectly equipped with gloves, masks and jackets. Well, we’re talking something like that. In short, a sterile and isolated environment that is ideal for working with highly sensitive electronic components.
If the satellites are already installed, the payload will be retested under laboratory conditions to ensure that the data has been collected correctly and can be filtered and managed as planned in the previous steps. It is important to remember that payload is the most important part of CubeSat, which is why it is designed. If it does not work, the nanosatellite will lose its existence.
During this production process, we apply the European Space Agency (ESA) quality standards in Alén Space ECSS. With this method, we can achieve a 100% success rate in projects developed by our team, the highest level in the small satellite supplier market.
Environmental testing campaigns
We have reached the fifth stage and are already doing so with complete nanosatellites. It’s time to run real-world simulations for CubeSats.
This consists of three basic controls:
Environmental test for each satellite. Here it is necessary to check that CubeSats can withstand startup and startup. Some of these tests are contractually necessary for launchers (vibrations), and others are used to ensure that Smallsats is able to support conditions in space (heat pump).
Function test of each satellite. It verifies that CubeSats communicates properly with ground stations, that the downloaded software works in a series of scenarios … In short, it verifies that nanosatellites perform the task for which they were designed in space.
Operational tests to build a nanosatellite. Not only is it necessary to check the communication between each satellite and the ground station, but also to check that the constellation as a whole can be performed correctly, efficiently and in a coordinated manner.
Five, four, three, two, one … If there’s one iconic image we’re all connecting to space, it’s probably a countdown.
At this point in the process, the CubeSats are complete and the next step is to place them in the chamber. Therefore, the launch is one inevitable point in any small satellite project.
As part of the integrated service we offer at Alén Space, there is also a start-up support that manages all the necessary procedures (negotiations on prices, technical requirements, inspections …) to bring nanosatellites into orbit. Either way, this is a step that customers may want to manage independently.
This whole 8-step process may seem a bit linear, but it is important to understand that some of these steps overlap. In fact, you start managing your entire startup calendar from scratch. What is being done at this stage is the delivery of nanosatellites for inspection and launch.
The satellites are already in space, and now everything has to fit together perfectly. The control and operation of CubeSats depend on whether everything is working properly and is in the intended trajectory and position.
This phase consists of two important moments:
LEOP (start and start phase). When placed in orbit, the constellation of small satellites is supposed to place them where they should be. During startup, CubeSats are disabled, and when enabled, they must be placed in a specific location on a specific path. This process takes a few days after startup.
IOCP (deployment phase). The satellites are already in space and everyone is in place. At this stage, it is checked that they are doing their job properly and that there are no problems with operation, hardware or communication, including the payload itself. This step can take several weeks, although the exact time depends on the nature of the project. .