Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Eric Mehiel

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


The Cal Poly CubeSat Laboratory (CPCL) is currently facing unprecedented engineering challenges—both technically and programmatically—due to the increasing cost and complexity of CubeSat flight missions. In responding to recent RFPs, the CPCL has been forced to find commercially available solutions to entire mission critical spacecraft subsystems such as propulsion and attitude determination & control, because currently no in-house options exist for consideration. The commercially available solutions for these subsystems are often extremely expensive and sometimes provide excessively good performance with respect to mission requirements. Furthermore, use of entire commercial subsystems detracts from the hands-on learning objectives of the CPCL by removing engineering responsibility from students. Therefore, if these particular subsystems can be designed, tested, and integrated in-house at Cal Poly, the result would be twofold: 1) the space of missions supportable by the CPCL under tight budget constraints will grow, and 2) students will be provided with unique, hands-on guidance, navigation, and control learning opportunities. In this thesis, the CPCL’s attitude determination and control system design and analysis toolkit is significantly improved to support in-house ADCS development. The toolkit—including the improvements presented in this work—is then used to complete the existing, partially complete CPCL ADCS design. To fill in missing gaps, particular emphasis is placed on guidance and control algorithm design and selection of attitude actuators. Simulation results show that the completed design is competitive for use in a large class of small satellite missions for which pointing accuracy requirements are on the order of a few degrees.