The ÅAC Microtec Nano PCDU (Power Conditioning and Distribution Unit) for nanosatellites is the result of a joint development project between ÅAC Microtec, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Swedish Defense Materiel Administration (FMV). The unit was designed for the SPARC-1 6U CubeSat, but it also supports other spacecraft form-factors (e.g. 2U, 3U and larger satellites). The flexible and modular PCDU is designed for mission life up to five years in LEO and implements both power conditioning and distribution of the regulated 12 V battery bus and auxiliary 5 V and 3.3 V outputs. The rigorous testing and extended qualification campaign compliments an innovative design approach that combines COTS and radiation hardened components and optimizes the reliability and performance characteristics of the system.


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Main features

  • Modular design approach delivers scalability and easy tailoring to mission-specific requirements and custom interfaces
  • Reliable high-performance power solution for nanosatellite platforms, originally designed for 6U
  • 45 W peak power
  • 12 V nominal bus and battery voltage, auxiliary 5 V and 3.3 V outputs
  • Individual latching current limiters (LCLs) on all outputs
  • Retriggerable LCLs (RLCLs) on system-critical outputs
  • FPGA based control and monitoring of all switches and interfaces through RS485
  • Six solar array string inputs
  • S3R battery charge regulation
  • Solar array deployment interface for thermal knife or burn wire
  • ITAR free equipment

Modular design

The PCDU adopts a modular design approach which enables easy customization. Integration of interfaces for deployment mechanisms, magnetic torquers, payloads and other equipment can be added through modular design elements. This approach minimizes the risk of failure and, reduces the additional qualification requirements.

Dependable technologies

The PCDU design builds on heritage from previous missions with customers such as ESA, NASA, JAXA and other commercial organisations. A number of design features are implemented to achieve optimized reliability characteristics. For example, the use of discrete bipolar design rather than integrated circuits, enables a better characterisation of the system through a more thorough Parts-Stress-Analysis (PSA). Internal supply voltages are current limited with automatic restart and the FPGA design features Triple-Modular-Redundancy (TMR).

Flight heritage

We are very proud of our flight heritage since we flew our avionics on the first mission back in 2009. Many successful flights have followed since then and many new are scheduled.

About ÅAC Microtec’s power subsystems

ÅAC Microtec has designed electrical power systems for a number of satellites such as TechEdSat-1, TechEdSat-3P, QuadSat and Risesat.

The electrical power systems are built around ÅAC Microtec’s modular power management unit design that can easily be combined and customized to fit the varying needs of different spacecraft. Power generation and storage equipment (solar arrays and batteries) are provided by established suppliers.

ÅAC Microtec is able to supply complete electrical power systems as subcontractor to the prime, or to provide power management products to the designers of electrical power systems.