Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

IEEE Access






CubeSats are a class of pico-satellites that have emerged over the past decade as a cost-effective alternative to the traditional large satellites to provide space experimentation capabilities to universities and other types of small enterprises, which otherwise would be unable to carry them out due to cost constraints. An important consideration when planning CubeSat missions is the power budget required by the radio communication subsystem, which enables a CubeSat to exchange information with ground stations and/or other CubeSats in orbit. The power that a CubeSat can dedicate to the communication subsystem is limited by the hard constraints on the total power available, which are due to its small size and light weight that limit the dimensions of the CubeSat power supply elements (batteries and solar panels). To date, no formal studies of the communications power budget for CubeSats are available in the literature, and this paper presents a detailed power budget analysis that includes communications with ground stations as well as with other CubeSats. For ground station communications we outline how the orbital parameters of the CubeSat trajectory determine the distance of the ground station link and present power budgets for both uplink and downlink that include achievable data rates and link margins. For inter-satellite communications we study how the slant range determines power requirements and affects the achievable data rates and link margins.

Original Publication Citation

Popescu, O. (2017). Power budgets for CubeSat radios to support ground communications and inter-satellite links. IEEE Access, 5, 12618-12625. doi:10.1109/ACCESS.2017.2721948