Astronauts aboard the International Space Station launched three CubeSats early Nov. 19, using a deployment mechanism aboard the orbiting lab’s Kibo Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) that was successfully demonstrated last year.
A fourth satellite is scheduled for release early Nov. 20.
The first wave, ejected with the Small Satellite Orbital Satellite Deployer (SSOSD) from the Kibo exposed facility at 7:17 a.m. EST, included:
• Pico Dragon, a 1U CubeSat (10 by 10 by 10 cm) developed by the University of Tokyo, the Vietnam National Satellite Center and IHI Aerospace for Earth imaging.
• ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X, developed by Nanoracks and NanoSatisfi undersponsorship, for the technology validation of reprogramming deployed 1U satellites.
TechEdSat-3 is scheduled for deployment on Nov. 20 at 2:50 a.m. EST. The 3U (30 by 10 by 10 cm) satellite was developed by’s to validate an aero-braking mechanism called Exo Brake.
(JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata handled the first deployments after working with NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins to prepare the JEM’s experiment airlock and the SSOSD for operations.
“From the monitor it looks really beautiful,” Wakata advised JAXA flight controllers after the first three CubeSats sped away.
“Congratulations on a successful deployment,” the Japanese ground team responded.
The release was delayed several minutes as Wakata and the controllers resolved an issue with a command panel display.
The CubeSats were delivered to the ISS aboard JAXA’s HTV-4 resupply mission that docked to the station’s U.S. segment on Aug. 9.
Using procedures validated in October 2012, the station astronauts opened the inner hatch of the small experiment airlock in the Kibo module to gain access to a slide table. The CubeSats, pre-packed in two Satellite Install Cases, were placed in the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform on the slide table. The platform and the SSOSD were moved through the airlock to the JEM exposed facility, a 20- by 16.7- by 13.3-ft. (6 by 5 by 4-meter) external platform with power and data links for science payloads and engineering evaluations.
The spring-loaded deployer was grappled by Japan’s 32-ft.-long robot arm and extended a safe distance for the initial release.
In the Oct. 4-5, 2012, demonstration, the JEM launch apparatus deployed five U.S. and Japanese CubeSats.