DiskSat prototypes — a novel, thin circular satellite standard — in the lab.
Credit: The Aerospace Corporation

Over the years, there has been an explosion of CubeSat capability.

But make room for an alternate approach – DiskSat.

The Aerospace Corporation is looking into this novel, thin circular satellite. For launch, several DiskSats can be stacked to fit within a launch vehicle’s fairing and deployed one at a time after the launch vehicle reaches orbit — an ideal approach to building large constellations of small spacecraft, allowing 20 or more satellites to be containerized in a single small launch vehicle.

DiskSats shown stacked within a small launch vehicle fairing. DiskSats are high-power and high-aperture alternatives to CubeSats, launched in tight stacks but deployed individually to ensure no recontact between satellites.
Credit: The Aerospace Corporation

“The key challenge with the DiskSat is developing a dispenser that will contain the satellites during launch and then release them one at a time on orbit,” explains Richard Welle, an Aerospace Senior Scientist. “We are still working out the details of the dispensing system, but we expect that the satellites will be released one at a time from the top of the stack with sufficient speed to ensure that each satellite is well clear of the dispenser before the next satellite is released. The design of the dispensing system will be finalized and tested in the laboratory over the next few months.”

Demonstration mission

Welle adds that the Small Spacecraft Technology Program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is supporting Aerospace to build and fly a demonstration mission.

The DiskSat next to a 1.5U Cubesat.
Credit: The Aerospace Corporation

Four spacecraft will be deployed in low Earth orbit to verify baseline DiskSat performance and validate the launch dispenser.

“The four demonstration satellites will have electric propulsion and operate in pairs: one pair will fly at low altitude, and the other will demonstrate high-altitude operations, showcasing DiskSat’s maneuverability. This demonstration mission is expected to be ready to fly by the end of 2023 and will fly as soon thereafter as a launch opportunity can be identified,” Welle explains.

Are discs the future of small satellites?

For more details on DiskSat, go to:

https://aerospacecorp.medium.com/are-discs-the-future-of-small-satellites-b95ade76d2b5

Also, go to this informative video at:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1557400518762278912

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