HOUSTON — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station ejected five Cubesats in two waves Oct. 4, successfully demonstrating a first-ever satellite deployment technique using the Japanese Experiment Module’s Small Satellite Orbital Deployer and robot arm.
(JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide handled the task from a JEM operator’s post, commanding the 40-ft.-long combination main robot and small fine arm extension to extract the deployer holding the five multinational 1 to 2 kg Cubesats from a small airlock. The airlock separates Japan’s pressurized Kibo compartment and the module’s “back porch” exposed experiment facility.
The satellites will evaluate a range of communications and Earth observation technologies on missions ranging from a few days to several months. The joint effort between JAXA andwill permit experts from government, the private sector and academia to assess the effectiveness of small satellite technologies as well as the novel deployment technique.
The Cubesats were delivered to the station with the deployer aboard Japan’s HTV-3 resupply capsule in July.
astronaut Sunita Williams, the station’s commander, and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko documented the deployments at 10:37 a.m. and 11:44 a.m. EDT with photography from the station’s Cupola observation deck. The station was orbiting at altitudes of 250 mi. and higher.
The Japanese “We Wish” and Raiko satellites led the parade. Developed by Meisei Electric, We Wish will evaluate the use of a small infrared camera for observations of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Raiko, developed by Tohoka University for Japan’s Ministry of Education, is outfitted for Earth photography.
The second wave included the TechEdSat, F-1 Satellite and Fitsat-1. The Technical Education Satellite from NASA’sand San Jose State University will assess the use of “plug-and-play” avionics for the rapid configuration of Nanosats over a 10-day mission. F-I is a collaboration between the FPT University of Hanoi, Vietnam, Uppsala University of Sweden and Nanoracks, LLC, to gather temperature and magnetic field data as well as low-resolution images of the Earth. Fitsat-1, developed by the Fukuoka Institute of Technology, of Japan, will evaluate the use of a 5.8Ghz high-speed transmitter for image transmissions.