SPS: clever use of excess capacity to launch small satellites

The “Secondary Payload Structure” (SPS), developed by structure experts of Airbus Netherlands, meets the challenge of filling the launcher’s excess payload capability while providing the small satellite market with additional launch opportunities. The SPS cylinder is to be situated between the launcher payload adapter and the primary payload and has the capability to separate the primary payload whileaccommodating CubeSat deployers to also release up to 24 3U cubesats or 6 microsats or a mixture thereof.

SPS, a joint undertaking of Airbus Netherlands and ISIS – Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS), is the answer to the annual growth in launch demands for small satellites and the need to provide for in-orbit demonstration of space technologies. The SPS concept (patent awarded) provides a practical launch solution which is not available on any European launcher today and has been developed and qualified within the European Space Agency Technology framework. ISIS is market leader in providing rideshare launches for small satellites (www.isilaunch.com) and aims to extend its services using the SPS product.

The basic version of SPS is a modular and standardised platform on which nanosatellite, microsatellites and IOD payloads can be manifested for launch underneath the main payload. The SPS also includes the primary payload separation function (clampband). The main carrier currently envisaged for SPS application is VEGA launcher family. However, all other launchers with a standard 937 payload adapter interface are candidate for hosting. Together with the SPS, a full package of launch services for small satellite customers can be delivered.

The development process iscompleted early 2019 with a successful qualification test campaign, proving the SPS assembly to be ready for flight from mid-2019 onward. Main parts like the primary separation system and nanosat deployers already have considerable flight heritage. Evolutions to a larger 1194mm SPS version with double payload capacity and a free-flyer version are currently under study.

The specific functionality of SPS, including the built-in separation function of the primary payload, makes the system perfectly suitable for a ‘plug and play’ application and relative late add-on to launch campaigns.


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