[amsat-bb] Only Half of the CubeSats Deployed into Space Work

Graham Shirville g.shirville at btinternet.com
Fri Jun 17 08:01:13 UTC 2016

Hi Dan

Many thanks for the link. It certainly makes interesting reading...at the bottom of his database is a further link to his 2016 presentation https://sites.google.com/a/slu.edu/swartwout/swartwout_cubesat_workshop_20160420.pdf?attredirects=0 that you mention.

Can we, collectively, come up with a better name than "Hobbyists" that he shows in slide 3? 



-----Original Message----- 
From: Daniel Schultz 
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2016 2:55 AM 
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org 
Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Only Half of the CubeSats Deployed into Space Work 

I just attended a talk on Tuesday by professor Michael Swartwout of Saint
Louis University. He maintains a database of all known Cubesats at:

According to his most recent data, about 25% of recent Cubesats are dead on
arrival in orbit, and another 12% fail early in the mission. 50% of Cubesats
are classified as fully or partially successful. He attributes this mostly to
inexperienced organizations building their first satellite with little
understanding of the space environment and little or no environmental testing
before launch. A certain amount of first timer "we know everything" arrogance
also factors into that statistic. Satellites in space definitely don't work
the same as satellites on the workbench. Many of these "one and done"
organizations quit building satellites after their first failure, those
organizations that launch multiple Cubesats have much better success rates.
Experience does count for something. 

Even for tiny little Cubesats, there is a set of "best practices" that you
need to pay attention to when building your satellite. If it is your
organization's first satellite, you need to be mindful of what you don't know
and try to learn from the experience of others. 

Slides from an earlier presentation by Professor Swartwout are at:

I expect that this year's presentation will be posted online in a few days.

Dan Schultz N8FGV

------------Original Message------------
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2016 18:54:05 +0000 (UTC)
From: M5AKA <m5aka at yahoo.co.uk>
To: AMSAT BB <amsat-bb at amsat.org>
Subject: [amsat-bb] "Only Half of the CubeSats Deployed into Space
<528856269.7643560.1466103245274.JavaMail.yahoo at mail.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

ARRL story quotes NASA engineer Joe Pellegrino as saying "Only Half of the
CubeSats Deployed into Space Work" - is the failure rate really that

I've certainly noticed that a number of ISS deployed CubeSats using amateur
frequencies which were subject to delays in the initial launch and then more
delays before actual deployment have failed but it certainly didn't seem to
as high as 50%

But most ISS CubeSat deployments are not on amateur frequencies e.g. over 100
Planet Labs Dove CubeSats have been deployed. Was the NASA engineer saying
half of Planet Labs satellites failed to work? 

73 Trevor M5AKA

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