CubeSat LISA-T Solar Array Deployment & Articulation  System


The Goal of our project is to design and prototype an articulation & deployment system for a CubeSat utilizing the LISA-T thin-film foldable solar array.  

The articulation system should be able to automatically track the sun as the CubeSat orbits. The articulation system should also be able to provide movement in two directions. We will use a rotation axis (theta) and a tilt axis (phi) to acheive this goal.

Our customer has also requested for us to re-design the physical deployment mast between the solar array and CubeSat so that it is capable of retraction & redeployment. 


Proposed Design: 

Solar Tracker

The design will consist of 4 photoresistors posisioned on the deployment plate of the LISA-T Solar array. The 4 photoresistors will be seperated by a short divider to cast shadows on each sensor when it's not pointed directly at the sun. This will give us near 360-degree coverage around the CubeSat to calculate the position of the sun. Initial Prototyping Goal: Set up an array of 4 photoresistors and take readings from the array using Arduino analog input pins.


We plan on designing an articulation axis capable of holding the Solar array deployment plate. It will also house the servos used for the tilt axis, and the stepper motor for the rotation axis. We plan to have a range of movment greater than +/-45 degrees in both the theta and phi axis'. Initial Prototyping goal: Move both motors independantly & simultaniously, and provide manual control for the motors. 

Deployment mast retraction

For the deployment and retration system, we decided to design a scissor lift that would fit inside the body of the cubesat. The scissorlift design was selected because it provides a good amount of extention and retraction, while being a low-volume solution to easily fit inside the cubesat.  


Our prototype will be built around an arduino microcontroller, and built around a 3D Printed 2U CubeSat body. Ultimately, if our design moves forward into production, this system will be integrated into the system board of the CubeSat and re-designed using spaceflight-rated materials.

Deliverable Files:

Diagram of Proposed Design

Fall Semester- Final Report (PDF)

Video of Inital Prototypes (Light Sensing, Motor movement, Manual Motor control)

Full Assembly CAD Image

Video of Articulation system demonstration

User Manual of Finished System

Zip file Containing CAD files of Final Product

Contact Information:

Daniel Krollman

Alex Mueller

Mentor Information:


Dr. John Carr

Capstone Mentor:

Faculty Mentor:

Faculty Mentor:

Arnau Rovira Sugranyes

Dr. Julie Heynssens

Dr. Christopher Edwards