All space missions require a spacecraft that meets budget constraints and mission requirements. SDL’s experience with modular architecture, high-reliability miniaturized satellite approaches, and knowledge of the space environment enables us to satisfy a wide range of customer needs.


  • Expertise in small satellites ranging from 3U CubeSats to ESPA-class satellites
  • Modular open system architecture to reduce cost and improve performance
  • Radiation performance to support all Earth orbits and interplanetary missions
  • Multiple approaches for high-reliability miniaturized satellites
    • Traditional
    • Military grade
    • HiRel
Comparison Area Traditional CubeSat Military-Grade CubeSat HiRel CubeSat
Common Program Goals Student experience/ interesting science Technology advancement/ improved capability Mission capability/ mission safety
Design Drivers Cost Performance, reliability Mission success
Design Approach Capability-based Requirements-based Requirements-based
Lifetime 1 year Design for 1-3 years Multi-year missions
Systems Engineering Rigor Low High High
Parts Quality Commercial Industrial/military/space Military/space
Processes Commercial NASA/DoD certified NASA/DoD certified
Risk Approach < Class D Class C/D Class C & up
Requirements Verification Environmental test Full capability verification Full capability verification



Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter

The HARP instrument is a wide field-of-view hyper-angular imaging polarimeter designed to characterize aerosol and cloud properties.

Spacecraft Platform

SDL’s spacecraft platform is a set of standard and customizable components that can be assembled into multiple mission configurations while minimizing non-recurring engineering costs and development schedules.


Dynamic Ionosphere Cubesat Experiment

Twin CubeSats mapped the geomagnetic Storm Enhanced Density (SED) plasma bulge and plume formations in Earth’s ionosphere.


Skipper, a joint US-Russian space science mission, was the third space experiment in the Bow Shock series sponsored by MDA. Its mission was to obtain aerothermochemistry and emission data from shock-heated layers.

Various DoD Programs