About Triteia

Triteia was a semi-autonomous chemically propelled 6U CubeSat competing in NASA's CubeQuest Competition. Triteia was one of the first CubeSats to venture into deep space, paving the way for future low-cost space missions. With the incorporation of an additively manufactured thruster and 450 m/s of Delta-V, Triteia was able to reach its target in days instead of months using low-thrust propulsion.

Triteia represented a new agile approach to space mission design. The incorporation of the CHREC space processor allowed for complex autonomous functions and data processing in a radiation rich environment. The average satellite used out-dated high-heritage processors, thousands of time slower than a consumer PC, and Triteia paved the way for the incorporation of modern high-level software development for future space missions.


Triteia was powered by a hydrogen peroxide blowdown system. By utilizing a monopropellant and a blowdown feed system, we minimized volume, mass, and complexity.
Like the Vulcan-I engine Callan, the thruster powering Triteia, was additively manufactured through DMLS using Inconel 718. Inconel 718 was chosen for its high durability and proven reliability in Vulcan-I tests.
To control all of the functions onboard the system, Triteia used Spacemicro’s CHREC space processor (CSP), made with Radiation Hardened Components and featuring high performance computing abilities with a fault-tolerant architecture. It contained a Xilinx Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC (AP SoC) that was coded to process incoming data and deliver commands to the system.
The processor performed different operations based on the data received from sensors and commands received from the ground station, as well as the timeline of the mission. The processor featureed a custom lightweight version of Linux.
Communication with Earth occured solely over the S-Band using a transceiver manufactured by Innoflight. In addition, two patch antennas on opposite ends of the satellite aided in maintaining a stable connection.
While Mission Control was located at UCSD, the antenna responsible for sending and receiving information was located at Morehead State University in Kentucky. This antenna was selected based on cost, accessibility, and reliability with handling S-Band signals.
The chassis of Triteia was composed of six 7075 T6 aluminum sheets, selected for its high strength and light weight. While its design was optimized to maximize volume and minimize mass, it was also responsible for safely and reliably housing all internal and external components.
It was able to survive the immense launch accelerations, random vibrations, and extreme temperatures of space.
Power was provided by five solar panels designed and manufactured by SEDS UCSD with solar cells provided by Solaero. The panels tracked the sun around each orbit and was capable of generating more than 30W of energy. When in eclipse, or oriented away from the sun, eight Panasonic lithium-ion batteries provided 100 Wh of energy.
To achieve the required mission lifetime, the battery depth of discharge during orbit did not exceed 40% of full charge. This limited the amount of time the spacecraft can transmit information during communication phases.
Triteia's trajectory was determined using NASA's GMAT. Its journey to the moon required two maneuvers, one to change inclination and one to enter lunar orbit, for a total delta-v budget of 396 m/s. Disposal occured passively within one and a half years, though the mission may be extended if enough propellant remains.
GMAT was also used to analyze various geometric properties of the mission, such as eclipse and contact times.

About the NASA CubeQuest Challenge

The Cube Quest Challenge, sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Centennial Challenge Program, offered a total of $5 million to teams that meet the challenge objectives of designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the moon.

For more information, visit the NASA CubeQuest page.

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