Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical & Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Dimitrie C. Popescu

Committee Member

Robert L. Ash

Committee Member

Otilia Popescu


CubeSats facilitate a low barrier to entry in University and Industrial space research. With the rapid, low-cost development of CubeSats, the need for a reliable and ro- bust communications subsystem becomes evident to ensure mission accomplishment. With the advent of Software Defined Radio, Old Dominion University is compelled to upgrade the rigid Legacy Hardware systems in place with inexpensive and flexible Software Defined Radio Solutions. Currently, Old Dominion University is on the cusp of conducting its first space science mission as a member organization of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium Cubesat Constellation and is manifest for launch on April 17, 2019 NASA Wallops Flight Facility. To conduct this mission, the design and construction of a 1U Nano-Satellite and the upgrade to existing ground station architecture was necessary. To relay data in a point-to-point fashion as required by the Science Mission, Old Dominion University has developed custom ground station hardware and software to communicate with its own satellite and the satellites of others. This thesis presents the salient design aspects in implementing a complete electrical system architecture for a 1U spacecraft and the upgrades required in the Ground Station Architecture to support the required demodulation and decoding of a 9600 baud GMSK signal from a model of the deployed satellite necessary to conduct a true science research mission as part of a University Satellite Constellation. The demodulating signal processing steps are designed in GNU Radio Companion and deals with parts of the AX.25 data link layer protocol. Additionally, analysis shall be presented to highlight the design choices made for both the spacecraft and the ground station and will demonstrate various system parameters and characteristics of interest based on the Orbital Simulation results obtained from Systems Toolkit (STK). Finally, results of the architecture design shall be reported on the system by measuring Communications Link Performance benchmarks such as Bit-Error-Rates (BER) and Signal-To-Noise Ratios (SNR).


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