Surrey Satellite, NanoRacks to make possible larger satellite deployment from the ISS

Surrey Satellite Technology US, wholly owned subsidiary of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited of UK, announced cooperation with Aerojet Rocketdyne and NanoRacks on the development of FeatherCraft platform for a 100-kg class satellite, optimized for deployment from the International Space Station (ISS).

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Surrey Satellite US logo

SST-US-designed 100-kg FeatherCraft platform is intended to exploit full capabilities of the ISS cargo resupply vessels and the NanoRacks Kaber deployment system. Aerojet Rocketdyne's electronic propulsion system will permit the spacecraft to raise their orbits once deployed to the station.

FeatherCraft is a low-risk, cost-effective satellite platform that can accommodate payloads with requirements of up to 45 kg and 50 watts, according to press-release. SST-US says it can go from contract signing to launch of a FeatherCraft spacecraft in 19 months, building the spacecraft at its facilities in Colorado.

FeatherCraft explained. Credit: Surrey Satellite
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Development of FeatherCraft bases on significant experience of the team members. Surrey Satellite has extensive heritage of small satellite design, development, and operation spanning over 30 years through the manufacture and deployment of 43 satellite programs. Aerojet Rocketdyne has proven track record in the design, development, and manufacture of state-of-the-art propulsion and structural subsystems. NanoRacks possesses unique experience in planning, logistics, and operations of launch services from the ISS.

“We are excited to work with this extraordinary team to develop this innovative product. FeatherCraft will reduce payload integration and testing time for our customers, which facilitates rapid and cost-effective deployment of their payloads.” Dr. John Paffett, CEO of SST-US
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NanoRacks logo

Like many CubeSats that currently being launched from the ISS, FeatherCraft satellites will be shipped to the station inside cargo resupply vehicles. These satellites will be deployed using a new NanoRacks' system called Kaber, expected to be delivered to the ISS later this year on a SpaceX cargo flight.

CubeSat Deployment. Credit: NanoRacks
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Aerojet Rocketdyne's propulsion will allow FeatherCraft satellites to raise their orbits to altitudes as high as 550 kilometers, giving them orbital lifetimes of up to five years. Currently, typical CubeSats ejected from the station re-enter in less than a year.

"Kaber launch service was a clear next step for NanoRacks to meet our company’s constantly growing customer needs and desires to deploy larger satellites from the ISS. Kaber continues to promote ISS utilization, and the FeatherCraft platform expands capability of payloads that can be deployed from ISS..." Jeff Manber, chief executive officer of NanoRacks

SST-US did not reveal FeatherCraft's price in its announcement. However, SpaceNews informs, company's engineer Michael Brown said at ISS workshop that the base cost of the spacecraft, including launch and communications services, is $6 million. Upgrades, including additional power, improved pointing and attitude control, and addition onboard storage could increase the price up to $12 million.

While SST-US hasn't disclosed any customers for the spacecraft, Brown said the spacecraft could support variety of missions, including technology development, space and Earth science. “FeatherCraft is very capable at integrating multiple types of payloads,” he added.

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