Launch opportunities for small satellites are multiplying rapidly as new and existing vehicles offer an expanding array of services.
For years, small-satellite program managers have been signing up to piggyback on U.S. government and commercial flights as well as Russian and Indian rockets. Now, program managers are eager to explore new opportunities to fly as secondary payloads on new launch vehicles, including the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9, Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares and Lockheed Martin Athena. In addition, Virgin Galactic announced plans in July to develop an air-launched rocket to serve the small-satellite market and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is preparing to release cubesats in September from a robotic arm attached to the international space station’s Kibo experimental module.
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