Over the next ten years, more than 6,000 smallsats are expected to launch. That’s an over six-fold increase from the previous decade. As the smallsat market grows, launch remains the main bottleneck to timely and affordable access to space.

The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS) released a new policy paper today that explores the benefits of Launch Unit standards for smallsats.

Straightforward access

The authors’ proposed standard configurations, like the Launch Unit, would enable straightforward access to launch vehicles, cargo, and satellites, leading to standard schedules and known pricing.

Currently, most smallsats are launched as secondary payloads when there is excess space in a launch vehicle. In addition, every deployment must be specifically designed for each smallsat. The capabilities and agility of the smallsat industry would be greatly enhanced by the implementation of a smallsat launch standard.

Credit: LASP/NASA/GeoOptics

Launch standard

This standard would address the physical properties of the smallsat (size, volume, vibrational modes) as well as the mechanical and electrical connections to the launch vehicle.

This paper explores the benefits of defining a launch standard for medium-class (25-200 kilogram) smallsats and provides options for its development.

To view the paper — Setting the Standard: Launch Units for the SmallSat Era — go to:

http://www.aerospace.org/publications/policy-papers/setting-the-standard-launch-units-for-the-smallsat-era/

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