On November 28, 2014 at 17:00 UTC the “SpinSat” satellite was launched from the International Space Station. The satellite — named SpinSat and developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory — will test out new electrically-controlled micro-thrusters, help refine the military’s ability to track objects in space, and acquire data on the density of the tenuous upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere. SpinSat’s deployment from the space station was the first time a satellite was released from a new mechanism designed to accommodate spacecraft weighing up to 100 kilograms. The space station already has a deployer for tiny CubeSat satellites, which weigh less than 10 pounds.
The debut of a new deployer known as the Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS) allows the complex to serve as a launch platform for larger, more capable satellites.
The deployer is nicknamed Cyclops and measures about the size of a living room coffee table. NASA partnered with the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program to develop the system, which launched with the SpinSat spacecraft on a SpaceX Dragon supply ship in September.
Astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Terry Virts attached SpinSat to the deployer, slid the device through an airlock and positioned the device outside the space station’s Japanese “Kibo” module.
A Japanese robotic arm grabbed the deployer and moved it to the correct location for SpinSat’s release.