University CubeSat Project Management for Success

Lucy Berthoud, Michael Swartwout, James Cutler, David Klumpar, Jesper Larsen, Jens Dalsgaard Nielsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


CubeSats have been developed by many different institutions since they were introduced by California Polytechnic State University and Stanford University in 1999. Given the 40% failure rate of university missions, it is important to discover what project arrangements may give the CubeSat the best chance of success. The aim of this paper is to offer those wishing to start a CubeSat program some indications of what successful project management at a university may look like. This paper provides case studies of 3 universities who have launched more than 4 satellites: University of Michigan, the Montana State University, and Aalborg University in Denmark. The information was gathered by asking supervisors from these teams a series of questions relating to project management. These included team structure, continuity, how the students organize themselves, how much of the work is embedded in the curriculum, how new students were integrated and how documentation was used to manage the project. The different methods of organization used in the different programs were described with their unique features. After this, both the variation and the common elements were identified. It is hoped that this research will contribute to successful CubeSat projects in universities worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication33rd Annual AIAA/USUConference on Small Satellites SSC19-WKIII-07
PublisherUtah State University
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2019

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Education Research Group


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