The Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS), also known as “Cyclops,” deployed the largest satellite ever from the International Space Station (ISS) on November 28, 2014. The satellite, SpinSat, a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)/Department of Defense Space Test Program (DoD STP) satellite, is pioneering the utilization of electronically controlled solid propellant thrusters as well as acquiring vital atmospheric density data. It is a spherical satellite 22 inches in diameter, weighing 115 pounds, and will remain in orbit for over two years.

Following its successful deployment of SpinSat, Cyclops is being housed within the ISS pressurized environment in anticipation of future satellite deployments. Future deployable satellites will be delivered to the ISS in a soft stowed configuration aboard one of the ISS’s resupply vehicles and then stowed onboard the ISS until their scheduled deployment date. Once mated to Cyclops by the ISS crew, the satellite will be processed to the unpressurized external environment of the ISS through the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Airlock. Outside the ISS, it will then be transported from the area near the JEM to its deployment location through the use of JAXA’s Small Fine Arm (SFA). There, actuation through the SFA is performed and the satellite is deployed by Cyclops. Cyclops also has the capability to utilize the ISS’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) for satellite deployment if required. Following satellite deployment, Cyclops will be returned to the JEM Airlock and transferred back inside the pressurized ISS volume for future use.

The Cyclops system was designed, analyzed, manufactured, tested, and certified in-house at NASA Johnson to serve as a system that allows the ISS to accommodate and deploy payloads that are significantly larger than the standard CubeSat size. The Cyclops deployment unit and supporting hardware is comprised of various structural and mechanical subsystems, which together allow it to interface with the ISS crew, the JEM Airlock, the SFA and SPDM robotic arm systems, and the deployable satellites. These interfaces facilitate the transfer and deployment of satellites by Cyclops. Cyclops requires that each deployable satellite use its single standard attachment interface, designed and developed at JSC purposefully for use with Cyclops. The interface is provided by the ISS program to satellite developers by request.

After seeing Cyclops successfully delivered to the ISS in September of 2014, and then working to successfully deploy SpinSat two months later, the team that developed Cyclops is continuing to work closely with groups from JSC Engineering, the University of Texas at Austin, and Texas A&M University for their upcoming deployment of the LoneStar Satellite. Also, opportunities for additional satellite deployments are in work with DoD STP, other NASA organizations, and several academic and industry partners. Cyclops will remain indefinitely onboard the ISS supporting deployment of small satellites and experiments as a key resource in the utilization of the ISS.

This work was done by Daniel Newswander, Matthew Hershey, Joseph Anderson, Brent Evernden, Gabriel Ortiz- Sanchez, Peter Taylor, Jeff Hagen, Katherine Dithmer, Charles Mccann, Ronald Lewis, Oscar Guzman, James Smith, Ross Patterson, William Decker, Jason Weeks, Carlos Ortiz- Longo, Priscilla Kelly, Khadijah Shariff, Anju Gupta, Raymond Patin, Hung C. Lo, Daila Gonzales, Jon Figert, Robert Blaine, Ted Tsai, Alex Tovar, Michael Waid, Pete Fantasia, Monica Visinski, Michael Wright, Lebarian Stokes, Shanda Norman, Barton Smith, John Harrison, Sharla Fults, and Jay Bennett of Johnson Space Center, with support from Wyle, Jacobs Engineering, the DoD STP office, and the ISS program. For more information, contact the JSC Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809. Refer to MSC-25646-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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