‘Launch Unit’ created for medium small satellites

Launch Unit satellite

The Launch-U standard is designed to apply to satellites bigger than a CubeSat but smaller than an ESPA-class secondary payload. (Aerospace Corp. Photo)

LOGAN, Utah — Tiny satellites have their own 4-inch CubeSat standard size, and bigger satellites have a size standard as well. But there’s an awkward gap where no one can agree on exactly how big a satellite should be. Until now.

Today The Aerospace Corp. took the wraps off a proposed size and weight standard it calls the “Launch Unit.” According the standard, a Launch-U satellite and its separation system would fill a volume of 45 by 45 by 60 centimeters (1.5 by 1.5 by 2 feet), or about the size of an end table or two carry-on pieces of luggage strapped together. (Or, for that matter, a pirate chest.)

The mass could range from 60 to 80 kilograms (132 to 176 pounds), with a roughly balanced center of gravity, according to a technical paper issued to coincide with the SmallSat Conference here in Logan. For vibration purposes, the payload’s fundamental frequency would have to be above 50 Hz in any direction.

Launch-U builds on the 10-by-10-by-10-centimeter Cubesat standard, which can apply to 1-unit satellites (1U) or bigger satellites (for example, a 6U satellite, which would be roughly 10 by 20 by 30 centimeters). One Launch-U equals roughly 96 CubeSat units.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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