NEWS: 01.23.2017

TuPod Deployment
MOJAVE-01.23.17--- Rocket and satellite development company Interorbital Systems (IOS) enjoyed the thrill of seeing its first assembled TubeSat kits reach orbit, courtesy of the Japanese HTV-6 rocket and sat-kit builders: an Ubatuba, Brazil, Middle School with its Tancredo Sat-1 and OSNSAT (with TubeSat electronics) from California start-up Open Space Network. These satellite kits are a space science tool designed by Interorbital’s team to support not only STEM and STEAM curricula in US and over 20 countries worldwide, but also are applicable to advanced science and engineering experiments.

“The TubeSat kit is one of IOS’ inventions and one of our best–selling products---and it is the world’s least expensive satellite kit,” said IOS Co/Founder and CTO Roderick Milliron.
One of the IOS TubeSats launched to the ISS and deployed into orbit, Tancredo-1, was built by the Tancredo Middle School, with the mentorship of INPE, and the Brazilian Space Agency. The Ubatuba, Brazil, program, is led by educator Candido Moura, an early adopter of Interorbital’s satellite ‘maker’ program. The TubeSats flew on December 9th, 2016, in a ‘TuPOD’ deployer specially made to accommodate the TubeSat picosats aboard the Japanese HTV-6 cargo rocket to the International Space Station from which the TuPod containing the small-sats was deployed prior to their activation. The GAUSS organization facilitated the payload placement, and provided the 3-Unit TuPOD, a 3D-printed deployer, designed as a kind of P-POD specifically for TubeSats. The TuPOD was first created as part of a Morehead State University small-sat team led by Professor Bob Twiggs. According to the GAUSS website: “On 19 of January 2017, at around 23:30UTC, the TuPOD successfully deployed the two TubeSats hosted inside its structure, TANCREDO I and OSNSAT. One hour later, at around 00:30 UTC the satellite contacted the GAUSS Ground station in Rome indicating the successful deployment of the TubeSats. The mechanism of release of the two microsatellites worked correctly, marking a new milestone in the small satellites area: it is the first time that two TubeSats are deployed in Space, using the specifically designed TuPOD that has the double function of satellite and release platform. TANCREDO-1 was also received while flying over Rome, indicating a good deployment. OSNSAT however will make its first contact with its ground team over the US some hours later.” The TubeSats have been identified by the NORAD with the reference 1998-067KZ (catalog number 41939) and 1998-067KY (catalog number 41936).

Interorbital also offers CubeSat kits, which are equally popular and affordable, at a special low academic price. The first TubeSat kits hit the market in 2009, and were sold with a launch on a future mission of Interorbital’s NEPTUNE rockets. The ultra-low cost was offered because Interorbital considered the first of its rocket launches to be high-risk and experimental, but offered ride-share payload space to LEO, something in short supply to the smallsat community. With 137 small satellites--most of them built from IOS’ own TubeSat and CubeSat kits--on its launch manifest, the company anticipates beginning its own orbital launch services when testing and FAA/AST licensing is complete, projected for mid-summer 2017.

The HTV-6 TubeSat mission capped off an eventful 2016 for IOS. In August 2016, Interorbital’s launch contract with Google Lunar X PRIZE Team SYNERGY MOON was verified, sending the team and launch-provider one step closer toward the Moon launch they hope will win the $30 million dollar prize.

2017 testing features field testing of all rocket systems including the guidance and control system for the NEPTUNE rocket series. Upon completion of these final ground tests, IOS will conduct a full-scale vehicle flight test of a guided CPM, as one of the milestones in IOS’ busy launch schedule for 2017.

IOS is also completing the design of the hypergolic liquid version of the its common upper stage. A single CPM with two common upper stages will be launched to orbit after the low-altitude guidance flight tests have been completed. This launch vehicle has been designated the N1 LS2 LS3. This version is capable of launching a 4.5 kg payload to 310 km or a 3 kg payload to 550 km polar orbit. This will be the smallest and lowest-cost launch vehicle in the world.

Interorbital TubeSat Kits On Orbit and Functioning
Tancredo Sat Team TubeSat with OSNSAT and TuPOD