Achieving a small satellite of CubeSat standards can be done within the period of two years. The mass and volume of a 3U model (combining 3 cubic units 10cm) are compatible with a dedicated photometric instrument.

The space observatory of 30x10x10 cm is shown below:

The PicSat satellite CAD design (above) shows the electronics unit comprising of the antennas, communication system, navigation computer, power electronics and batteries, a central unit for attitude control system (ADCS) including the inertia wheels and the scientific payload. The final unit houses the opto-mechanical payload and the stellar sensor.

Mass budget [g]
Subsystem Mass
Struct. 226
Comm. 223
CDHS 162
Power 1 141
ADCS 469.3
Payload 1349.6
TOTAL 3 570.5
Power budget [mW]
Subsystem Power (on orbit)
EPS 214.2
OBC 387.6
TRxVU 672.5
Ants 72.5
ADCS 1452
Payload 1447.4
Total (with margin) 5095.4
Power generated 5860
Balance +764.6

The CubeSat standards developed by CalPoly (Polytechnic University of California) allows for the purchasing of outer-space qualified equipment “off the shelf” helping to reduce costs. In addition, the interface with the launch vehicle is made with a specially designed deploying machenism where the CubeSat is installed on the rocket as a secondary passenger. Because the price of the launch is almost entirely determined by the satellite weight, it greatly reduces the cost of launch. Further, since the rocket will launch twenty Nanosatellites, in addition to the primary payload, the cost is further reduced to between €50,000 – €200,000 depending on the CubeSat units.