NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer) - 11.22.16

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

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The NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer is a stackable, modular, ground loaded launch case.  Each NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer accommodates up to 6.5U and eight launch cases are stacked for each JEM Airlock opening. The NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer meets the growing demand to deploy CubeSat format satellites from the International Space Station for a variety of customers.
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The following content was provided by Kirk Woellert, B.S., M.A., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer

Facility Manager(s)
Kirk Woellert, B.S., M.A., NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Michael D. Johnson, NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - March 2016; March 2016 - February 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

Information Pending

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Facility Description

Facility Overview
The NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer accommodates up to six 1U CubeSats (6.5U capacity). The launcher deploys a CubeSat group inclusive of 1U CubeSat or a single 6U CubeSat or a combination of different size satellites totaling up to 6U as dictated by the CubeSat design.  Up to eight preloaded 6U launcher systems are deployed per air lock cycle. The CubeSats are preinstalled in the launch cases on the ground.
The housing structure of the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer consists of four aluminum plates. Rails are incorporated on the inside of the structure to guide the CubeSat out of the launcher.  The plates are chemical conversion plated with hard-anodized rails. The front flange and doors along with the rear base and plunger are also fabricated from aluminum and are chemical film conversion plated for corrosion protection.
The CubeSats are ejected using a spring/plunger combination at the rear of the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. The spring provides a positive force throughout the stroke. The plunger is slightly larger than the front flange thereby stopping it at the end of the stroke. Four screws at the rear of the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer are adjusted to preload the CubeSats against the door removing any play due to manufacturing tolerances. Once the release mechanism is actuated by the deployment signal sent, the door opens releasing the CubeSats. The energy required to eject the CubeSats at a meter/second is approximately 2.0 ft-lb. A spring provides this energy. When assembled into the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer the spring compresses  allowing 6 CubeSats to be packaged in a launch “tube”.
The door for the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer is released using a Pinpuller manufactured by TiNi Aerospace, Inc. It utilizes a redundant electric activation circuit. A plunger is attached to the shaft of the Pinpuller trapping a ball between plunger and the ball seat on each door. After activation of the Pinpuller, the balls are allowed to drop down into the groove of the plunger allowing doors to open. The doors are opened via forces of a torsion spring in the door hinges and from preload applied on the loaded CubeSats. Doorstops allow approximately 95 degrees of travel allowing uninhibited CubeSat deployment, while keeping the door within a 5 inch vertical envelope to prevent interference with adjacent NanoRacks CubeSat Deployers when stacked.
The NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer components and payloads are transported via a pressurized launch vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS). Operation of the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer occurs after transfer to the ISS and subsequent installation on the JAXA MPEP in the JEM. The NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Assembly is not powered or active until deployment and power applied through the JEM RMS for satellite deployment activity.
The fully assembled NanoRacks CubeSat Deployers are mounted and stacked on the JAXA MPEP and deployed outside of the ISS via the JEM Airlock Slide Table. The JEM RMS grapples the MPEP and translates the system to the deploy location and orientation. The commanding of the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer is done via the connection through the JEM RMS Console via the JRMS to the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer electronics control box. The Japanese ground crew at a ground command station generates commands.
The launch cases are returned to Earth for reloading for the next launch.

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Facility Operations

  • Each NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer has the capability to launch 6 U of CubeSats.
  • Up to eight preloaded 6U launcher systems are deployed per air lock cycle.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

Results Publications

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites

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One of over a dozen NanoRacks CubeSat Deployers with customer CubeSats integrated for flight. The CubeSats are ejected through the white deployer doors at bottom of the photo. The deployer access panels have been removed showing (bottom to top) NanoRacks-UaPSat-1, NanoRacks-ArduSat-2, NanoRacks-SkyCube, NanoRacks-LitSat-1 and NanoRacks-LituanicaSAT-1. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, LLC.

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NASA Image: ISS038E056150 - NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer taken shortly after successful deployment of two bays of cubesats during Expedition 38.

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