The development of an ARM-based OBC for a nanosatellite

Brand, Christiaan Johannes Petrus (2007-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Next-generation nanosatellites are becoming a very cost effective solution to gain access to space. Modern manufacturing technology together with low power low cost devices makes the development of nanosatellites, using standard industrial components, very attractive. A typical nanosatellite will have only one microprocessor, capable of performing all the computing tasks onboard the satellite - housekeeping, AODC (Attitude and Orbit Control) and instructing the different payloads aboard the satellite. One of the major requirements was to choose a processor from a dominant manufacturer in the market that will still be available for future satellite missions. Just as the 8051 dominated the 8-bit market, the ARM7 processor is fast becoming a market leader in the segment for 16-bit applications. ARM processors has also been used much in handheld devices in recent years - which emphasize the low power requirements and stability of these processors in embedded applications. This thesis investigates the different processors that are currently available. A complete system design is done, taking into account all the different modules needed onboard a very small Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite. Finally, some test results are given showing how this system can be reliably used onboard a nanosatellite in future.

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