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Spotlight: Power Conditioning and Distribution Unit (PCDU) designed for small and microsatelliteS and its importance in NewSpace missions – with EXA


The NewSpace sector has pushed the innovation boundaries in the space industry, giving rise to both technologically advanced components as well help accelerate the commercialization in the space industry. In this dynamic landscape of NewSpace industry, the Ecuadorian Space Agency (EXA) is one of the players in the industry serving the high demands of the global space market. The COLOSSUS Power Conditioning and Distribution Unit (PCDU), which was particularly built for space operations, is a critical component of EXA’s success. EXA has recently established itself as a prominent player by shipping the first PCDU designed, built, and tested in Ecuador, Latin America.

In the further sections of the article, we will take a deeper look at EXA’s COLOSSUS PCDU and its importance in small and microsatellite missions.

What is a PCDU?

A PCDU is like the heart of a satellite, a big satellite, not a CubeSat or nanosatellite. It takes the power generated by the solar panels, or arrays, and conditions it, meaning it transforms it into the multiple needs of the multiple devices in the spacecraft that need different types of power.

For example, 50 volts at 5 amperes, 12 volts at 3 amperes, 28 volts at 3 amperes, and so on, keeping those different power streams steady and stable, so the satellite can work. In general, the PCDU is a critical component that contributes significantly to the success of these missions. It is the backbone of spacecraft power systems, meeting the unique problems and requirements of NewSpace initiatives.

Understanding the specific requirements of small and microsatellites

Traditional satellites are enormous and complicated, with several systems and redundancies. Small and microsatellites, on the other hand, have an emphasis on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and simplified design. These satellites are frequently used for a variety of applications, including earth observation, scientific research, and technological demonstration. Given their small size and weight limits, each component on board must be tuned to maximum functionality while utilizing limited resources.

Simultaneously, small and microsatellites are frequently outfitted with solar panels to harvest solar energy for power generation. The PCDU is critical in properly controlling and regulating incoming power to guarantee a consistent and uninterrupted supply. This is especially difficult in space environments, where variations in solar exposure and orbital circumstances can affect power output.


COLOSSUS is the most advanced PCDU of its kind designed by EXA. It has the highest power-to-volume and weight ratio for its class. The device weighs only 7.6 Kg and yet is capable of delivering 1.6 KW of power (more or less like what a small house consumes in a day) it means that a 150 Kg satellite accounts for 5% of its mass and yet powers the entire spacecraft.

And yes, 7.6 kg INCLUDING THE BATTERIES in the same device.

EXA plans a family of COLOSSUS models, scalable up to 16 KW (like you could power your entire apartment for 16 days, non-stop) with the same efficiency in mass and power as the first COLOSSUS L2A shipped in December 2023, the design is carried out by the EXA. The onboard computer that controls the device was designed by another Ecuadorian company, Quantum Aerospace (QAS) and also fabricated in Ecuador, along with the flight software (operating system) also written by QAS engineers.

COLOSSUS design started back in 2018 with a team led by EXA’s Chief Designer AND Academician Ronnie Nader, later in 2022 after the proper validation of all models prototyping and testing started and a contract was awarded by a US-based company building its own fleet of 15 satellites of 150 Kg each. The unit first shipped was an Engineering Development Unit (EDU), later in 2024 the first Flight Unit will be shipped, and then 15 units more.

The NewSpace sector focuses on cost-effectiveness and quick deployment. EXA’s PCDUs are designed specifically for small and microsatellites and contribute to this approach by providing cost-effective solutions that maintain functionality. The improvement of power management with efficient PCDUs helps to make NewSpace flights more affordable. In the next section of the article, we will take a deeper look into these characteristics of PCDU for small and microsatellites.

Unique characteristics of EXA’s PCDU

1. Cost-effective design: EXA’s PCDU is distinguished by its cost-effective design. Recognizing the cost restrictions that NewSpace projects frequently confront, EXA has focused on production efficiency while maintaining the PCDU’s quality and performance. This strategy is consistent with the NewSpace principles, which emphasize cost-effectiveness as a driving force behind project success.

2. Lightweight construction: EXA’s PCDU prioritizes lightweight construction, recognizing the influence of weight on overall mission expenses. The PCDU is meant to be small and lightweight using innovative materials and engineering processes, resulting in greater payload capacity for scientific equipment and other critical components.

3. Adaptability to different orbits: The current global space missions frequently use many orbits, ranging from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for Earth observation to Geostationary Orbit (GEO) for different satellites. The EXA PCDU is designed to adapt smoothly to varied orbits, optimizing power distribution depending on the variable solar light levels faced in each orbit. This flexibility increases the versatility of EXA’s spacecraft, enabling a wider range of mission goals.

4. Diverse missions and importance in small and microsatellites: Small and microsatellites perform a variety of functions, including Earth observation, communication, scientific study, and technological demonstration. The versatility and customization possibilities provided by EXA’s PCDUs enable satellite developers to design a variety of mission profiles, broadening the scope and effect of NewSpace initiatives. It is designed to work smoothly with the fast-paced development processes, reducing total time-to-launch.


As the NewSpace sector evolved, the importance of small and microsatellites in altering space exploration becomes increasingly clear. The PCDU remains a key component in this change, ensuring that these satellites function efficiently, reliably, and cost-effectively. The customization, downsizing, and adaptability provided by PCDUs built for NewSpace missions enable satellite makers to push the limits of innovation, propelling the industry ahead into new horizons.

EXA is committed to developing indigenous space capabilities, with an emphasis on capacity building and technology transfer. The company’s PCDU is being developed in partnership with local industry and educational institutions, which will create a competent workforce and contribute to Ecuador’s technological success. This strategy is consistent with the NewSpace ideal of fostering local expertise and innovation.

EXA‘s PCDU demonstrates Ecuador’s capabilities to upgrade space technology within the NewSpace landscape. By tackling the particular issues of cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and efficiency, EXA’s PCDU contributes significantly to the agency’s success in space missions. As Ecuador continues to carve out a position in the global space market, EXA’s efforts in space product development remain a symbol of creativity and dedication, demonstrating the potential for new space programs to make significant contributions to the global space community.

To find out more about EXA's COLOSSUS, please view the COLOSSUS Information here on our SmallSat Market platform.



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