Image: Nanosats shot into orbit from the ISS

Below is a great picture posted by NASA of a recent ejection of nanosats from the International Space Station into orbit. The company NanoRacks developed the deployer and installed it on the ISS with their own funds and made a deal with the Japanese space agency to have their astronauts do the deployments from their habitat module with the use of the station’s robotic arm.

There were 33 nanosats delivered in January to the station for NanoRacks by the Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo module. The 33 nanosats included 28 earth observation satellites owned by the startup company Planet Labs. One of the other five is a NanoSatisfi Ardusat and the rest are university research satellites. The deployments started in early February and they finished sending all 33 satellites into orbit yesterday.

NanoRacks is getting so many orders, they are working to increase launch capacity from the ISS: Demand for CubeSat Deployments Nearing Space Station Limit – Via Satellite.

There are many innovative low-cost commercial space activities like these that are in operation or moving quickly towards implementation. Follow the latest developments in this NewSpace era with a subscription to NewSpace Watch, where I am the Managing Editor.


Deploying a Set of CubeSats From the International Space Station

A set of NanoRacks CubeSats is photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member after deployment by the NanoRacks Launcher attached to the end of the Japanese robotic arm. The CubeSats program contains a variety of experiments such as Earth observations and advanced electronics testing. International Space Station solar array panels are at left. Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene.

Two sets of CubeSats were deployed late Wednesday, Feb. 26 and early Thursday, Feb. 27, leaving just two more launches to go of the 33 CubeSats that were delivered to the station in January by Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo ship. The latest CubeSats were sent on their way at 8:50 p.m. EST Wednesday and 2:40 a.m. Thursday. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites and have small, standardized sizes to reduce costs. Two final batches of CubeSats are set for deployment at 11:20 p.m. Thursday and 2:30 a.m. Friday, but more are scheduled to be delivered to the station on the second Orbital commercial resupply mission in May.

> Read more