Best Motor for CubeSat Project

Hi all,

I would like to gauge everyone’s expertise to narrow down the best type of <50 rpm motor to run a small mechanical experiment on a CubeSat.

Based on the high vibrations, incredibly cold temperatures and limited power supply of a CubeSat, what’s the best type of motor to look towards and what should I definitely avoid?



Hi Indi

This will impact any mechanical experiment especially with lubricants. Aircraft use specialist lubes (AeroShell) to withstand encountered temps but a satellite will be much lower than this.

How much power is available and for how long. Any contributor would have to know this to have any idea. Also how much weight is available for this motor.

I think you could finish up with something a little more exotic than the usual hobby motors dealt with here. I could be quite wrong as I have had nil experience with actual satellites and would only be guessing.
Cheers Bob


Hi Indi,

I must admit I feel a bit out of my depth recommending motors for a CubeSat, it sounds like a pretty mission critical application.
Generally I’d say choose the motor type based on what is most important to the application.

  • Stepper motors are best for accurate and precise motion and can provide a high holding talk while stationary but generally do not provide feedback.
  • Servo motors are great for controlled motion and some can provide positional feedback.
  • Brushed DC motors are easy to drive and when used with encoders can provide feedback on their speed.

Beyond that I’m a bit out of my depth on this topic, but I’m excited to see what you come up with to shoot into space.

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Hey Indi,

I’m keen to see it in action!

Are you limited to a motor? I can’t find the video/topic where I saw it but someone used a tape measure as an antenna, it allowed for pretty seamless deployment and worked perfectly.

As Bob has already mentioned you will need some specialty lubricant and make sure nothing cold welds up in space!


Hello Bob,

Thank you for your insight on the aero-grade specialist lube, will keep a note of it.

We have a 3.3V/5V power rail provided 10min an hour, which is how long the experiment will run.

In terms of weight, I have budgeted about 50g-60g, but can be flexible.

Regardless of experience, It’s always helpful to understand different perspectives on how to approach the problem!

Much appreciated.

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Hi Trent,

Thank you for explaining the applications of different motors.

Due to the fact we are running a mechanical experiment relying on speed/position control of the shaft, either servo or stepper motor might be the way to go.


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Hi Liam,

Much appreciated!

The cold temperatures are my biggest concern. As the experiment runs on a CubeSat, any sort of mechanical stalling is a huge risk to the success of the mission.

Will definitely be on the lookout for videos out there.


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