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Image by Vishnu Mohanan



The Electrical subsystem is responsible for power production, distribution, and management. Major components of this subsystem involve the solar panels and batteries. The team is heavily hardware focused, developing PCBs for an MPPT charging circuit, a Battery Management System, in-house solar panels, and more. Learn about board design in Altium and gain hands-on experience with PCB assembly.

Image by Chelsea


The Firmware team is responsible for writing all of the low-level software that will run on the satellite as well as writing the software for our ground station communications. This involves writing firmware for our RM46 microcontroller for various areas such as Communications, Electrical, Command & Data Handling, GNC, and Payload.


The mechanical subsystem is responsible or designing the bus (frame) of the CubeSat, and any other relevant mechanical systems, such as a battery holder. The mechanical team is also responsible for Finite Element Modelling (FEM) of all these components and thermal analysis to ensure the CubeSat can sustain the forces of launch and harsh space environment. The team performs 3D printing, prototyping in the University of Waterloo's Student Machine Shop, and uses tools such as Siemens NX for CAD and analysis.

Image by Bernard Hermant
Image by Kent Pilcher

Guidance, Navigation, and Controls (GNC)

The GNC subsystem is responsible for orientation control of the satellite within space through actuators such as magnetorquers and reaction wheels, as well as sensors (IMUs, sun sensors, GPS) that determine the location and pointing direction of the satellite. The team develops custom controls algorithms like B-dot, PID, and EKF, designs and builds the main Flight Controller board with Altium, is working on a custom magnetorquer design, and works with industry-standard orbital mechanics simulation software like AGI Systems Tool Kit.


The business subteam is responsible for many behind the scenes tasks of UW Orbital. This includes securing funding, reaching out to sponsors, and keeping track of finance and budgeting. The business subteam also manages marketing and brand creation, social media, organizing outreach events, content creation, technical writing, and recruiting students.

Image by Startaê Team
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