Sequential Control of Electromagnets for CubeSat Docking Attitude Alignment

Case ID:

The technology is a new method of sequential control of electromagnets in the application of autonomous docking using two CubeSat (miniature satellites). This is done with the help of active illumination signals through LED lights that are installed on two different CubeSats which helps for target identification in both CubeSats. 

Once the target identification process is done, the runner CubeSat and the chaser CubeSat start to move closer to each other with their propulsion. After the two CubeSats are close enough to each other the lights turn off and a two-step process starts to dock the two CubeSats. The first step is to deploy of an inflated balloon structure, and the second step involves turning the electromagnets.

Autonomous docking is an important part of spacecraft innovation. It makes possible for spacecrafts to link together, which can allow for in-space assembly and on-orbit servicing. Current docking spacecraft docking methods are more prone to cause collisions and subsequent failures during the rendezvous and proximity operations.

The invention proposes using electromagnetic levitations as it has been proved to be one of the safest approaches for autonomous docking. The main goal of the technology is to have two spacecrafts to dock with each other using the electromagnetic levitation method by using the onboard systems which will also enable a minimal use of active thrusters and fuel.


  • Autonomous docking for spacecrafts
  • Formation flying, surveillance, security, and fault detection for smaller non-contact docking


  • More freedom of error in the docking error
  • Reduced change of leakage problems
  • Safer approach for docking spacecrafts
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tariq Ahmed
Sr Licensing Manager, College of Engineering
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Jekan Thangavelautham
Virupakshan Vilvanathan
Athip Thirupathi Raj
Leonard Vance
Eniko Enikov