A conceptual design and hardware and software prototype for a CubeSat that will detach from a host space probe in order to take photos of an interesting mission event. The CubeSat will re-dock with the host after imaging the event and await deployment for the next event. A very simple interface is exposed to the probe via either electrical IO or as a device on the probe's bus system. It is designed to be a stand alone product which can be easily added as a complete system to any space hardware.

This project is solving the Deep Space CamSat challenge.


You may not be familiar with the name Robert Cornelius, but you’ll undoubtedly know of the concept he pioneered back in 1839. Okay, the technology was a little different back then, but by taking the first ever photographic self-portrait, he inadvertently became the father of the “selfie”.

Use of the word ‘selfie’ increased 17,000% between 2012 and 2013, reflecting the popularity of snapping self-portraits and sharing them with friends. It’s not only teenagers and celebrities who are obsessed with the craze, but space vehicles have got in on the action too.

On 12th November 2014 at 08:35 UTC the ESA probe Rosetta released the Philae lander, the very first vehicle to land on a comet! During this awesome event, Rosetta took many photos of itself as proud guardian of Philae as it flew the nest. This brought space exploration to the hearts and minds of the public who tuned in from all over the world to witness the event.

Sadly, as is the case with most of today's selfies the photographs did not fully do the event justice. It did not fully capture the detachment nor did it picture fully the probe and lander together. Instead the best it could capture was a partial static view of the probe's solar panels which consumed about 30% of the frame with the lander making it's way in the background.

All that’s about to change...

Enter SS Cornelius, the first purpose built selfie-satellite for rockets and deep space probes.

With the lightweight cubesat SS Cornelius onboard, you’ll never miss out on that perfect picture again.

This tiny detachable craft piggybacks on your probe and can undock to catch key mission moments as well as perform routine or emergency external inspection. SS Cornelius is capable of producing and transmitting images that show the probe and its surroundings as well as automating EVA inspection tasks. SS Cornelius is designed to re-dock ready for the next mission milestone.

Modular, light, economic and extremely versatile, SS Cornelius is set to change the future of spacecraft photography, forever. Supplied as a product with its own short range telemetry and simple host interface SS Cornelius can be mounted and easily integrate with any space vehicle.

In homage to the creator of the original selfie we proudly present our project - SS Cornelius!

Project Information

License: Apache License 2.0 (Apache-2.0)

Source Code/Project URL:


Github -
Presentation Slides -
Final Presentation Video -
Concept Video -


  • Chris Rhys Field
  • Sarah Offa-Jones
  • Matt Thorne
  • Henry Lim
  • Iain Rogers