PW-Sat3 Satellite

Spacecraft PW-Sat3
Type CubeSat
Units or mass 3U
Status not launched, expected in 2024
Launcher RFA One
Organization Warsaw University of Technology
Institution University
Entity Academic / Education
Nation Poland

Demonstrating orbit control with propulsion system and educational mission.


The primary mission experiment is a propulsion system for controlled orbit traverse.

PW-Sat3 mission will be equipped with KP Labs Antelope on-board computer and Oryx modular flight software.

A cold gas thruster is being designed to achieve the demanded circular orbit. It was decided to apply one nozzle for impulse generation in desired direction. For this operation, and to stabilize the satellite during and after the orbital maneuvers ADCS (altitude determination and control system) with reaction wheels will be in use. The propulsion system is a cold gas thruster with butane as a propellant and industrial valves, with no space heritage, are considered to be applied. The mission plan includes preheating the butane and use of heating coil inside which the propellant will be transferred to the nozzle.

  1. Buthane warm gas propulsion (primary experiment): Students from the PW-Sat3 team are designing, testing and qualifying buthane warm gas propulsion. Device will be used to perform station-keeping maneuvers and in the end of the mission, deorbiting maneuver.
  2. AOCS system (primary experiment): Another team of students is working on the custom AOCS system that will be used during propulsion maneuvers to align the satellite in the optimal orientation.
  3. EHS sensors: As the secondary experiment, students want to test Earth Horizon Sensors made from industrial IR matrixes
  4. Camera module: Similarly to the PW-Sat2 mission, the team wants to capture some breathtaking views from space to share it with everybody following the project and development of space exploration.
  5. We want to implement a simple open transponder onboard the satellite so that radio amateurs could broadcast custom radio packets. We are also investigating the possibility to allow radio amateurs to download on-demand low-resolution images from the camera module. Both functionalities would be enabled periodically due to energy budget constraints. Furthermore, similar to PW-Sat2, after completing LEOP and warm-gas thruster tests, we plan to broadcast various commemorative beacons. At those times we would notify the ham radio society via our social media and public forums like SatNOGS. Last but not least, all telemetry frame formats will be thoroughly described and made publicly available on the project website, as well as decoders and the accompanying software application.

Technology demonstration of a customised butane warm-gas propulsion system and attitude control algorithms.


Sail deployed, but degraded just after deployment - major damages within a week and slow degradation within the next few weeks. The reason isn't confirmed yet, but leading hypothesis is that temperature gradient between sail foil and arms leads to tension and breaking the foil.

Sources [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
Photo sources [1] [2]
COTS subsystems
  • OBC - KP Labs
  • OBSW - KP Labs
Keywords Propulsion

Last modified: 2024-05-29

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