JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide preparing the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

CubeSats in Orbit After Historic Space Station Deployment

Dec. 11, 2012 — Typically satellites launch from Earth, requiring dedicated launch vehicles to propel them into the proper orbit. The cost for this launch scenario could be reduced considerably if there was another way to get the satellites into their optimal orbit. The Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) found a way to cut the costs of this activity by designing a small satellite launcher, installed recently on the International Space Station.

The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) is capable of launching small satellites from the station, using the JEM Remote Manipulator System, which is like a small robotic arm. In the Small Sat Deploy-Demo, the remote robotic system grappled and retrieved the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform, where the J-SSOD is installed and loaded with the small satellite(s). There are two chutes on the deployer, with each chute holding up to three satellites. While attached to the robotic arm, the platform is released from the JEM Airlock, and positioned away from the station for safe deployment of the satellites.

Read more: CubeSats in orbit after historic space station deployment — Science Daily.

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