Interorbital Systems Selected for NASA SBIR Award

Interorbital Systems of Mojave has been selected for NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award. The company will use the funding to help develop its Common Propulsion Module (CPM) for the Neptune rocket, which is aimed at bringing down the cost of launching nanosats. No amount is mentioned, but SBIR agreements are typically made for six months for amounts as high as $125,000. The award is contingent upon successful contract negotiations.

Read a description of the work after the break.


Assessment Shows Sharply Growing Demand for Nanosats, Microsats

The Nano/Microsatellite Launch Demand Assessment by SpaceWorks Commercial shows that nano/microsatellite launch demand has grown by an average of 4.38% per year since 2000, with an expected 22.5% growth per year over the next 3 years (2011-2014). SpaceWorks Commercial is currently tracking over 180 known future nano/microsatellites being developed globally.

Through the use of quantitative estimates as well as reasonable qualitative adjustments to include new programs, SpaceWorks Commercial has projected global launch demand in the nano/microsatellite market. The assessment makes these future projections according to market growth curves used in other emerging high technology industries. Projections by SpaceWorks Commercial indicate a strong increase in nano/microsatellite launch demand, with an estimated range of 100 to 142 nano/microsatellites (1-50 kg) that will need launches globally in 2020 (versus 23 in 2011).

Read the full press release after the break.


New Nanosat Launch Service Launched

ATLANTA, October 25, 2011 – Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (Generation Orbit or GO) announced operation today as a new venture dedicated to the creation of a fast, flexible, and dedicated nanosatellite (1-30 kg) orbital payload delivery service. The service, called GO Launcher, will use existing high-speed jet aircraft and mostly existing rockets. Generation Orbit was officially announced today at the 2011 Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange (CRASTE) conference being held in Atlanta, GA.

GO is developing a new United States-designed and operated nanosatellite launch system called GO Launcher, an air-launch rocket architecture composed of an existing, reusable high-speed aircraft launch platform and expendable rocket stages. GO Launcher is designed to reduce the time it takes to get to space (under the mantra of “Your Orbit, On Time”) for the emerging field of nanosatellite customers.


Brazil, Japan to Cooperate on Micro- and Nanosats

AEB PR — A Japanese delegation comprising representatives of the embassy, ​​academia and research was received yesterday (21/09), the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), the director of the Satellite, Applications and Development (Dsad) Thyrso Villela, and the chief Advisor for International Cooperation (ACI), José Montserrat Filho. The main theme of the meeting was the possibility of joint development of micro / nanosatellites.

According to the Japanese delegation miniaturization of satellites is already a worldwide trend in two respects. The first is the low cost of manufacture. While the medium-large can cost anywhere from $ 200 to $ 500 million, small businesses are in the range of $ 2 to $ 5 million, which represents one-hundredth the price.


Andrews Space Expands 100 Series Avionics for NanoSat and Suborbital Applications

Seattle, WA (Andrews Space PR) —
Andrews Space announces the formal launch of several new products in its 100 Series avionics suite, which is targeted for CubeSats, NanoSats and the emerging suborbital market.

Andrews Space (Andrews) has been developing an integrated suite of CubeSat form factor cards that conform to the 10×10 cm cross section of a CubeSat standard. This avionics suite features a high performance flight computer, subsystem controller, communications card, instrumentation card, motor / valve driver board and an electrical power system.


Andrews Space and ISIS to Offer SENTRY NanoSat Bus to International Customers

Logan, Utah (Andrews Space PR) — August 9, 2011: Andrews Space (Andrews) and ISIS – Innovative Solutions In Space BV (ISIS) –  announced today that they have teamed to offer the SENTRY Nanospacecraft platform to international customers.

Andrews has developed the SENTRY NanoSat platform for spacecraft that range from a 3U CubeSat up to a 40 kg NanoSat. In addition, Andrews and ISIS are both developers of CubeSat and NanoSat subsystems, including the Andrews 100 Series of avionics components and the ISIS line of radios, power system elements, spacecraft structures and the ISIPOD series spacecraft dispenser. Under this joint marketing agreement Andrews and ISIS will jointly market a version of the SENTRY spacecraft to international customers that leverages the respective strengths and components of the two companies.


Planetary Society Hails NanoSail-D, Looks for LightSail-1 Launch Opportunity

The Planetary Society's LightSail-1 solar sail. Credit: Rick Sternbach/The Planetary Society

The Planetary Society, which has a solar sail mission of its own in the works, is taking a keen interest in NASA’s NanoSail-D spacecraft that successfully deployed earlier this week:

NASA has now confirmed that their NanoSail-D satellite has deployed its 100-square-foot sail in low-Earth orbit. The Planetary Society’s own solar sail project, LightSail-1, will soon be finished and ready for launch. Bill Nye, Executive Director of the Planetary Society, congratulated the NanoSail-D team on their achievement:

“Congratulations! Although NanoSail-D kept us waiting, we’re very pleased that it has successfully deployed,” said Nye. “This could be the beginning of a fundamental improvement in how we de-orbit spacecraft.”


NanoSail-D Deploys Solar Sail

NanoSail-D (Credit: NASA)


Friday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. EST, engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite deployed its 100-square-foot polymer sail in low-Earth orbit and is operating as planned. Actual deployment occurred on Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. EST and was confirmed today with beacon packets data received from NanoSail-D and additional ground-based satellite tracking assets. In addition, the NanoSail-D orbital parameter data set shows an appropriate change which is consistent with sail deployment.

NanoSail-D Satellite Ejects from FASTSAT

NanoSail-D (Credit: NASA)

UPDATE: NanoSail-D has ejected — Beacon data has been received


On Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. EST, engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite ejected from Fast Affordable Scientific and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT. The ejection event occurred spontaneously and was identified this morning when engineers at the center analyzed onboard FASTSAT telemetry. The ejection of NanoSail-D also has been confirmed by ground-based satellite tracking assets.

Amateur ham operators are asked to listen for the signal to verify NanoSail-D is operating. This information should be sent to the NanoSail-D dashboard at: The NanoSail-D beacon signal can be found at 437.270 MHz.


Amid Celebrations Over Dragon’s Success, Gloom Across Three Continents Over Space Failures

NanoSail-D - Lost in space? (Credit: NASA)

As upstart SpaceX was feted this week for the successful flight and recovery of its first Dragon spacecraft, engineers on three continents were puzzling out the reasons behind three high-profile failures in space, demonstrating anew the challenges associated with the difficult field.

In Russia, officials watched as a Proton rocket sent three navigational satellites to the bottom of the Pacific off Hawaii, delaying the nation’s efforts to provide full global coverage for its GLONASS program. Japanese engineers scratched their heads over why their Akatsuki probe ended up in orbit around the sun instead of Venus. And NASA is not quite sure what happened to an experimental solar sail satellite that blasted off into space from Alaska.


Video: Minotaur IV Launches From Kodiak Island


On Saturday, Nov. 20, FASTSAT made contact with ground stations at Svalbard, Norway and Kodiak, Alaska, and received commands from and communicated with mission controllers at the small satellite command center located at the Huntsville Operations and Science Control Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The satellite continues to function nominally as the commissioning phase of the mission continues.


Hams Radio Operators Can Listen to New Satellites

NanoSail-D (Credit: NASA)

Hams Invited to Listen for New Satellites
ARRL Press Release

Five research satellites were carried to orbit Friday evening aboard a Minotaur V rocket from Kodiak Island, Alaska. All the satellites use Amateur Radio frequencies and hams have been invited to participate in their missions by monitoring and collecting data.

The FASTRACs are two relatively small “nanosatellites” built by students at the University of Texas-Austin. They enter orbit as a single spacecraft, but then separate into FASTRAC 1, known as “Sara Lily,” and FASTRAC 2, referred to as “Emma.” Both satellites use 1200 or 9600 baud AX.25 digital communication and transmit at 1 W output, so they should be receivable with omnidirectional VHF or UHF antennas and decodable by ordinary packet radio hardware and software.


Planetary Society Wishes NASA Well on NanoSail-D Mission

NanoSail-D (Credit: NASA)

Planetary Society Statement
by Louis D. Friedman

NASA’s Nanosail-D is scheduled to launch on Friday — and we wish them well. Nanosail is an innovative development by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight and Ames Research Centers, and in many ways is the inspiration for the Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft, scheduled to be ready early in 2011 to carry out the first solar-sail propelled flight in Earth orbit.

The spacecraft is the same size and approximate mass as our own Lightsail-1, although Nanosail’s sail is smaller (3 meters on a side, instead of 4.5 meters). Nanosail will be pioneering the use of the Air Force Research Lab’s TRAC booms, which we will also be using on Lightsail-1. We’ll be interested in evaluating their deployment experience and understanding any implications to our own design.


Minotaur IV Set to Launch FASTSAT, NanoSail-D into Space on Friday Night

A Minotaur IV rocket is set to launch a set of innovative nanosats from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Friday evening. The launch is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 19, at 7:24 p.m. CST. The launch can be viewed on the web at this page,, on Friday, Nov. 19, starting at 7 p.m. CST.

Below are NASA’s descriptions of three of the satellites to be launched: FASTSAT, NanoSail-D, and O/OREOS.



NASA’s Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, will carry six small payloads to low Earth orbit, demonstrating a critical ability to provide low-cost and rapid response opportunities for scientific and technical payloads to get to space. FASTSAT is NASA’s first microsatellite designed to create a capability that increases opportunities for secondary, scientific and technology payloads, or rideshares, to be flown at lower cost than previously possible. It serves as a bus or platform that puts scientific research on the affordable fast track for governmental, academic and industry researchers.

The FASTSAT mission is a joint activity between NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program. The satellite was designed, developed and tested at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville.