Design and Fabrication of a PocketQube Satellite Chassis Utilizing a Backplane System

  • Ritvik Jayakumar Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Volgeneau School of Engineering, George Mason University
  • Dr. Peter Pachowicz Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Volgenau School of Engineering, George Mason University


This project explores designing a nanosatellite chassis utilizing circuit boards as part of the structure along with a double backplane system. The design was created under the PocketQube standard, a small, inexpensive nanosatellite often used in education and hobby cases. The specific design goals that were a part of the project include having a modular structure using a backplane and subsystem boards, using the boards as a part of the mechanical chassis structure, and using a lightweight aluminum brace to help support the structure and provide mounting points for outer panels and deployable mechanisms. The satellite chassis was designed in Autodesk Inventor CAD software while the circuit boards were created in KiCAD. Simulation tools were used to perform stress analysis tests on the CAD model of the satellite to determine how the design would perform under launch conditions. The initial prototype of the satellite was assembled using 3D printed braces and PCBs for testing if construction was feasible, but future versions will be CNC milled from aluminum. Further development of the satellite will be made with developing operational subsystem boards and integrating them with the backplane system. Ultimately, the chassis can be scaled and be used in nanosatellites to improve weight efficiency, ease of manufacturing, and provide a modular system that is easy to test and develop with.

Abstracts from the 2019 Aspiring Scientists' Summer Internship Program