A study of the mechanical systems contributing to the design and performance of a picosatellite’s mission in low-Earth orbit (LEO) was performed through design and analysis. The unique architecture of this satellite stems from a form factor established by the internationally recognized CubeSat Program. This CubeSat-Plus architecture limits the satellite’s size to be no larger than a 10 x 10 x 15 cm cube with an overall mass not exceeding 2 kg.

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are replacing the Nickel–Hydrogen batteries used on the International Space Station (ISS). Knowing that LIB efficiency and survivability are greatly influenced by temperature, this study focuses on the thermo-electrochemical analysis of LIBs in space orbit. Current finite element modeling software allows for advanced simulation of the thermo-electrochemical processes; however the heat transfer simulation capabilities of said software suites do not allow for the extreme complexities of orbital-space environments like those experienced by the ISS.

Recent years have witnessed more improvement to the SINDA/FLUINT thermohydraulic analyzer than at any other time in its long history. These improvements have included not only expansions in analytic power, but also the additions of high-level modules that offer revolutions in thermal/ fluid engineering itself.

Thermal engineering has long been left out of the concurrent engineering environment dominated by CAD (computer aided design) and FEM (finite element method) software.  Current tools attempt to force the thermal design process into an environment primarily created to support structural analysis, which results in inappropriate thermal models. As a result, many thermal engineers either build models “by hand” or use geometric user interfaces that are separate from and have little useful connection, if any, to CAD and FEM systems.