US: In a bid to reduce costs of satellite launches from earth, the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) has designed a small satellite launcher which was installed recently on the International Space Station (ISS).
The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) is capable of launching small satellites from the station, using the JEM Remote Manipulator System, which is like a small robotic arm. In the Small Sat Deploy-Demo, the remote robotic system grappled and retrieved the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform, where the J-SSOD is installed and loaded with the small satellite(s). There are two chutes on the deployer, with each chute holding up to three satellites. While attached to the robotic arm, the platform is released from the JEM Airlock, and positioned away from the station for safe deployment of the satellites.
The deployer allows for additional launch opportunities for these miniature satellites, while demonstrating new technologies for air, water and surface monitoring. This is a new capability for the space station, allowing for the launch of smaller satellites from a permanently manned orbiting vehicle.
The J-SSOD also allows the crew to power up the satellites right before deployment, as opposed to when the satellites are loaded onto the launch vehicles. This not only extends the battery life, but allows the crew to check functionality and make simple repairs, if necessary. Since the mini-satellites, or CubeSats, are delivered to the space station packed securely inside a vehicle, vibrations and environmental changes are less of a concern. These changes allow for a range of new future possibilities regarding small satellite design.
A demonstration of this new technology was performed on October 4, deploying five CubeSats, from the Kibo Laboratory, another name for the JEM. JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide commanded the first deployment from the station, with the second commanded from the ground control team. Using the JEM Remote Manipulator System, Hoshide assisted with the deployment of the satellites that involved several different investigations.
Source: Science Daily