Hitting for the Satellite Cycle: the Full Range of Satellites in a Single Launch

We’ve got a full bingo card of satellite sizes aboard one of our upcoming launches! While we have launched satellites of all sizes before, it’s rare to have one or more of each the different sizes represented in a single launch.

Rockets can accommodate all sizes of spacecraft – it’s just a matter of getting all of them integrated. The more sizes there are, the more difficult it is to plan, analyze, and integrate the mission. Each spacecraft can alter the dynamic response (ie: affects how everything moves when the rocket is shaking during launch) and dynamic stability (making sure nothing breaks).

Think of holding a bunch of groceries in your arms as you walk from the store to your car.  When you are standing still, you can hold everything OK.  But when you start moving, the way that you hold everything will determine if they tip over and fall, or if you make it to your car with all of your stuff! Luckily, we have years of experience mastering the unique puzzle work that is spacecraft integration. Prior to current growth in the smallsat sector, most spacecraft were large to maximize their capabilities. However, due to numerous factors, including the miniaturization of electronics, small sats can do big jobs.

A 1U cubesat has 1kg mass.

Here are the sizes of satellites we’re taking up on a single launch later this year:

  • Cubesat: These are generally made up of 10x10x10 units, usually in 1U, 3U, or 6U configurations. These can also fall into the smaller subcategories of Picosats or or Nanosats. Cubesats fit into a box-like dispenser and are deployed from that.
  • Microsat: These satellites are a bit larger, often between 10 and 100 kg. They will use their own separation system, and usually fly as secondary customers. They can fall into the category of Mini as well.

    The customer with the primary satellite typically determines the schedule and orbit.

  • Prime: The biggie. This is the main satellite and primary payload on a rocket. It can be in either the Medium or Large class. The customer with the primary payload usually determines the schedule and orbit destination of the rocket.

Each size determines cost, where it goes on the rocket, and if it has any decision authority over the launch date and orbit. By accommodating all types of small satellites, Spaceflight is democratizing access to space for a diverse group of customers with many different space applications. Give us a call and see what we can do for you!

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