NASA has developed a Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) that maximizes the efficiency of satellite launch missions. NLAS increases access to space while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called nanosats or CubeSats, onto launch vehicles. While a complete NLAS consists of an adapter integrated with four dispensers and a sequencer, its components can be used modularly with other adapter, deployer, and sequencer/actuator systems. The adapter is mounted to the upper surface of the launch vehicle at the separation plane and the lower deck of the primary spacecraft supporting its structural load. The dispensers are mounted inside the adapter and house a variety of CubeSats in fully enclosed bays. NLAS is stackable, allowing for the expansion of spacecraft deployments. An NLAS sequencer can initiate a secondary sequencer, allowing for the expansion of actuator and deployment capability.
NLAS provides an integrated system that meets the needs of nearly any smallsat mission. NLAS flight demonstration has shown the potential value of multiple nanosatellites as tools for a wide array of scientific, commercial, and academic space research.
NLAS consists of three configurable subsystems to meet the needs of a multispacecraft launch, Adapter, Dispenser, and Sequencer. The Adapter is the primary structure that provides volume for secondary payloads between the rocket and the primary spacecraft. The Adapter takes advantage of the frequently unused volume within the rocket fairing. It fits up to four NLAS Dispenser units or eight Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployers (P-PODs), or any combination thereof. The NLAS Dispenser is reconfigurable to support either two 3U bays or a single 6U bay, and is compatible with 1U, 1.5U, 2U, 3U, and 6U satellites. The Dispenser system is the first 6U deployment system backwards-compatible to 3U spacecraft.
Finally, the NLAS deployment Sequencer is an internally powered subsystem that accepts an initiation signal from the launch vehicle and manages the actuations for each deployment device per a user-programmable time sequence. It is programmed using ground support equipment (GSE) and a simple graphical user interface (GUI) on a computer.