Reliable Software Updates for On-orbit CubeSat Satellites

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Fitzsimmons, Sean
Robert E. Kennedy Library, Cal Poly
CubeSat; PolySat; Linux; Satellite; Avionics; Updates; Computer and Systems Architecture; Space Vehicles; VLSI and Circuits, Embedded and Hardware Systems
thesis / dissertation description
CubeSat satellites have redefined the standard solution for conducting missions in space due to their unique form factor and cost. The harsh environment of space necessitates examining features that improve satellite robustness and ultimately extend lifetime, which is typical and vital for mission success. The CubeSat development team at Cal Poly, PolySat, has recently redefined its standard avionics platform to support more complex mission capabilities with this robustness in mind. A significant addition was the integration of the Linux operating system, which provides the flexibility to develop much more elaborate protection mechanisms within software, such as support for remote on-orbit software updates.This thesis details the design and development of such a feature-set with critical software recovery and multiple-mission single-CubeSat functionality in mind. As a result, features that focus on software update usability, validation, system recovery, upset tolerance, and extensibility have been developed. These include backup Linux kernel and file system image availability, image validation prior to boot, and the use of multiple file system devices to protect against system upsets. Furthermore, each feature has been designed for usability on current and future missions.