First Salvo of 16 Planet Labs CubeSats Completes ISS Departure Early Saturday

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An initial salvo of 16 Planet Labs' Earth imaging CubeSats completed their NanoRacks LLC engineered departures from the International Space Station early Feb. 15.

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Planet Labs' Flock 1 CubeSats begin largest ever satellite deployment on Feb. 11, emerging from the International Space Station with a boost from NanoRacks. Photo Credit: NASA Photo

Twelve remaining Planet Labs' Flock 1 CubeSats delivered to the six person orbiting science laboratory aboard Orbital Sciences Corp's "Orb-1" Cygnus re-supply capsule on Jan. 12 are scheduled for deployment in the coming days, comprising the largest single satellite deployment, according to NASA.

In all, the Cygnus mission delivered 33 of the tiny satellites for multiple users.

The deployments, supervised by ISS Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, began Feb. 11 as the spring loaded NanoRacks CubeSat dispenser passed through a small airlock from the inside of the ISS Kibo lab module to the Japanese robot arm mounted to an external experiment platform. The arm held and pointed the CubeSat-filled deployer away from the station for the carefully timed releases.

The four Planet Labs satellites dispensed on Feb. 11 were followed by two more on Feb. 12, four on Feb.13 and two on Feb. 14. Four that experienced deployment difficulties on Feb. 12 were ejected on Feb. 15.

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