Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NASA Launches a Nanosatellite From a Microsatellite

This first is the start of a whole new chapter in satellite technology. This is the (formerly) sci-fy mother satellite deploying baby satellites; just think of all the potential applications.

"In the wee hours of the morning today something very small did something very big very high above the Earth. NanoSail-D, a demonstration nanosatellite launched aboard the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTSAT) last month, ejected from the mothership, marking the first time a small cubesat has been deployed from a larger autonomous microsatellite in space.

All of those qualifying nano- and micro- descriptors may obscure the real achievement here, so let’s look at it another way: NASA launched an autonomous satellite, and that satellite has successfully deployed a second, smaller satellite. That’s big news for FASTSAT, which was designed to be a small, cost-effective, and independent means to launch small commercial and scientific satellites without having to piggyback on larger, expensive NASA missions.

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