In this study, a monocoque satellite structure composed of many composite sandwich panels, which consist of two carbon fiber/epoxy composite faces and an aluminum honeycomb core, was designed to reduce structural mass and to improve static and dynamic structural rigidity. To join composite sandwich panels with T-shape joints, a new I-shape side insert, which was fixed inside the composite sandwich panel edge with film adhesive, was suggested. The composite sandwich panels were assembled with bolts using the through-the-thickness insert and the I-shape side insert. The flatwise tensile and compressive tests of the composite sandwich panels were performed with respect to the bonding pressure between the composite face and the aluminum honeycomb core to achieve an optimal bonding pressure. To investigate the joint characteristics of the composite faces and the I-shape side insert, cleavage peel tests were performed with respect to the bonding thickness. Also, a finite element model of the composite sandwich T-joint with the I-shape side insert was developed from experimental results of the impulse response tests and composite sandwich T-joint static tests. From the finite element analysis, the structural reliability of the monocoque composite sandwich satellite structure was verified. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.