New Space and Tech

NASA Cubesat Launch Dispenser – Special Notice

By Keith Cowing
May 3, 2013
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NASA Cubesat Launch Dispenser – Special Notice

The Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) was developed at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, CA to increase access to space, while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called Nanosats or Cubesats, onto launch vehicles.

Synopsis – May 03, 2013

NLAS ATTACHMENT – Posted on May 03, 2013

General Information

Solicitation Number: NLAS-SPECIAL-NOTICE-2013
Posted Date: May 03, 2013
FedBizOpps Posted Date: May 03, 2013
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Sep 30, 2013
Current Response Date: Sep 30, 2013
Classification Code: 18 — Space vehicles
NAICS Code: 336414
Set-Aside Code:

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Ames Research Center, JA:M/S 241-1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001


The Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) was developed at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, CA to increase access to space, while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called Nanosats or Cubesats, onto launch vehicles. A standard one-unit (1U) Cubesat measures about 4 inches (10 cm) long, 4 inches wide, and 4 inches high. A single NLAS provides the capability to deploy 24U of Cubesats. The system is designed to accommodate satellites measuring 1U, 1.5U, 2U, 3U and 6U sizes for deployment into orbit. The NLAS may be configured for use on different launch vehicles. NLAS consists of an Adapter, four Dispensers and a Sequencer. The Adapter is mounted between the lower surface of the launch vehicle and the primary mission spacecraft. The Dispensers are mounted inside the Adapter and house a variety of Cubesats in fully enclosed bays. Each Dispenser is reconfigurable and can contain either two 3U bays (where each 3U bay could be comprised of 3-1Us, 2-1.5Us, or a 1U plus a 2U), or a single 6U bay. A Dispenser can accommodate a total payload weight of up to 30 pounds (14 kg). To increase the number of secondary payloads, multiple NLAS can be stacked on a single launch vehicle. The Sequencer is a self-powered reprogrammable unit that signals the separation actuator of each Dispenser bay, or other deployment mechanisms. It also can trigger a second Sequencer in a daisy chain arrangement. The Sequencer has inbuilt redundancy, error checking and noise rejection. It is programmed using Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and a straightforward Graphical User Interface (GUI) on a computer. NLAS is used by NASA, other government agencies and commercial entities. Eight NLAS Dispensers are manifested to launch Cubesats during 2013.

A selection of NLAS photos are attached to this announcement.

NASA ARC hopes that its NLAS Dispenser design for deploying up to 6U of Cubesats will be the future standard for use in Cubesat missions. To further that goal, NASA ARC expects to release to members of the Cubesat community the basic NLAS Dispenser design and ‘build-to’ drawings package in the August 2013 timeframe. The design will be released to potentially all International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) -compliant fabricators who request it from NASA ARC. ARC may also provide the current interface design document (IDD) for the NLAS Dispenser upon receipt of your ITAR-compliance information, see item 5 below.

In addition, NASA ARC may discuss licensing of the NLAS Sequencer that was designed to command multiple NLAS Dispensers, or the NLAS Adapter that can hold up to four (4) Dispensers (an evolved commercial version is also currently available). Please contact NASA ARC if your organization is interested in extending or modifying the current NLAS Dispenser design.

To be considered for receipt of this information and/or data, please submit the following information by email to the Spaceflight Projects Office POC contact below:

1. Company/ Organization name 2. Address 3. Name of technical point of contact, email/ phone 4. Discussion of company’s/ organization’s technical background and capabilities 5. Discussion of company’s/organization’s ITAR compliance status. Is company registered with the US Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls? ( ) Are any non-US persons employed by the organization? The U.S. Government requires all manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense articles, defense services or related technical data to be ITAR compliant.

The decision by NASA to provide or to not provide this information and/or data to any organization who requests it is solely at the discretion of NASA.

Note: This is only a special notice and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that NASA ARC will take procurement action in this matter. Further, neither NASA ARC nor the Government will be responsible for any cost incurred in furnishing this information. All information received in response to this notice that is marked Proprietary will be handled and protected accordingly. As applicable, NASA will likely provide Proprietary information to its support service contractors who are under an obligation to keep third-party Proprietary information in confidence. By submitting a response to this notice, the responder is deemed to have consented to release of Proprietary information to such NASA support service contractors.

For more information about NLAS, please contact:

Gelsomina Cappuccio Spaceflight Projects Office NASA Ames Research Center

Point of Contact

Name: Marianne Shelley
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 650-604-4179
Fax: 650-604-3020

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.