We propose a CamSat design, focusing on propulsion, energy, and (un-)docking subsystems: Wireless energy transfer via resonant inductive coupling; flywheels for angular control; ion thrusters ([email protected]);and docking mechanism. At the heart of our project is wireless energy transfer. No physical refueling connection, meaning reduced mechanical requirements for docking. By not transferring pressurized fluids, any issues with imperfect hard seals can be avoided and mechanical wear can be minimized!

This project is solving the Deep Space CamSat challenge.



The aim of our project is to propose a straightforward, yet very effective CamSat propulsion, energy management and docking system. Its main features are:

  • Simple spacecraft docking infrastructure
  • Low mass, adheres to the CubeSat 1U standard
  • Very easy to rotate in space

This is realized by a set of essential components:

  • Ion thrusters for propulsion: propellant is carried on-board and not replenished
  • Nested flywheels to save space and provide a fixed inertial frame of reference
  • A motorized gimbal mount surrounding the flywheel core allows arbitrary rotation of the CubeSat Animation on Youtube
  • A simple docking mechanism which does not require highly precise positioning
  • Wireless power transfer when docked removes the need for connection of wires, no transfer of pressurized liquid takes place

These generic ideas are now concretely elaborated in terms of functionality and requirements on the hardware in the following document (pdf):


Highlights include the choice and specification of thrusters in use, power consumption and charging estimation, explanation of the attitude control, description of the docking procedure, and a CAD as well as real-life wooden model of the gimbal and flywheels.

In 1D, the physics of the docking procedure can be described by this animation of a damped harmonic oscillator: Animation on GitHub

Project Information

License: MIT license (MIT)

Source Code/Project URL:


Project Writeup -
Gimbal and Flywheel anim -
1D damped harmonic oscillator docking -


  • Oscar Nicoulaz
  • Daria Stepanova
  • Benjamin Shih
  • Jan Machacek