This paper presents design approaches to develop a reliable and efficient de-orbiting system for the 3USAT nanosatellite to provide a beneficial orbital decay process at the end of a mission. A de-orbiting system is initially designed by employing the aerodynamic drag augmentation principle where the structural constraints of the overall satellite system and the aerodynamic forces are taken into account. Next, an alternative de-orbiting system is designed with new considerations and further optimized using deterministic and reliability based design techniques. For the multi-objective design, the objectives are chosen to maximize the aerodynamic drag force through the maximization of the Kapton surface area while minimizing the de-orbiting system mass. The constraints are related in a deterministic manner to the required deployment force, the height of the solar panel hole and the deployment angle. The length and the number of layers of the deployable Kapton structure are used as optimization variables. In the second stage of this study, uncertainties related to both manufacturing and operating conditions of the deployable structure in space environment are considered. These uncertainties are then incorporated into the design process by using different probabilistic approaches such as Monte Carlo Simulation, the First-Order Reliability Method and the Second-Order Reliability Method. The reliability based design optimization seeks optimal solutions using the former design objectives and constraints with the inclusion of a reliability index. Finally, the de-orbiting system design alternatives generated by different approaches are investigated and the reliability based optimum design is found to yield the best solution since it significantly improves both system reliability and performance requirements. (C) 2015 IAA. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.