Integration and Test >


Scope and Description

This topic page covers the systems engineering and physical assembly tasks of integrating a smallsat. This process typically starts with an assembled bus structure and separate subsystem assemblies and finishes with a bus and payload assembly that is ready for deployer or launch vehicle integration. The planning and logistics of spacecraft integration - including sequencing with respect to testing - is important to reducing the risk of damaging flight hardware at this late stage in the project lifecycle.

Resources under this topic area primarily outline traditional processes for integration and presentations that can guide more efficient assembly and integration.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

Formulate baseline plans for integration early in the project, and push your team to design for integration flexibility and accessibility to subsystem interfaces. These features will maximize your chances of mitigating the impact if individual subsystems or payloads are running behind schedule.

Last Updated:

Nov. 1, 2021

Testing at higher-levels of assembly can be a valuable tool for cutting cost and schedule in a smallsat project; however, thoughtful planning is required to ensure that the integration sequence is mechanically and electronically compatible with plans for staged testing. Close collaboration with test engineers and subsystem leads is necessary to design an integration and test sequence which provides an optimal combination of efficiency and spacecraft reliability.


This appendix provides a smallsat assembly procedure document example.

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

This conference presentation includes "key recommendations" on how to improve the efficiency of space ... hardware assembly, integration, and test. The recommendations are supported by examples and data.

This conference paper discusses the Cal Poly Picosatellite Project (PolySat). Sections 4 and 5 cover ... integration and construction of PolySat with a level of detail that could be used to inform manufacturing, assembly, and integration processes for other smallsat developers.

This annual state-of-the-art report from NASA provides "a survey of small spacecraft technologies sourced ... from open literature" with an introduction to each technology, development status and performance metrics for procurable systems, and descriptions of new technologies with reference missions. Section 10.4.3 covers integration hardware technologies.

Last Updated: June 14, 2021

This section of the NASA Systems Engineering Handbook on product integration details the interactions ... between the subsystems and the system environment. It outlines the entire process from planning subsystem integration to testing the fully integrated system in simulated environments.

Last Updated: June 22, 2021

This presentation slide deck provides an overview of a typical "in-house" NASA integration and test program. ... This includes I&T definitions, processes and procedures, roles and responsibilities, and facility considerations.

Systems Engineering for University-level Engineering is a video series covering systems engineering products ... and techniques and how to apply them to projects. Lesson 9, titled "The Riskiest Part of System Design - Interfaces and Integration", discusses why interfaces and integration are the most challenging parts of the project life-cycle and recommendations for how to effectively navigate the systems engineering process for each.