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Bryce Report Finds Launch Unit Standard Provides Faster Access to Space

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / August 7, 2019 – A new study by Bryce Space and Technology found that Launch Unit (Launch-U), a small satellite, standard form factor concept, has the potential to both provide faster access to space and dramatically reduce integration lead times.

This study, conducted for The Aerospace Corporation, used research and interviews with launch providers, small satellite operators, and satellite manufacturers, to identify the benefits of the Launch-U standard as well as the risks and uncertainties associated with capturing those benefits.

The study team found that Launch-U could reduce design complexity and increase launch flexibility for satellite operators. For government programs, interviewees reported that Launch-U could allow more accessibility and flexibility, providing greater capabilities for responsive space. Interviewees also identified potential benefits for entrepreneurs, citing the potential for faster technology demonstration and reduced risk and uncertainty in the development process when using Launch-U.

Bryce also identified risks and uncertainties associated with capturing Launch-U’s potential benefits. The study team found there may not be sufficient market capture to fully realize efficiencies, and satellite operators might show resistance to reduced customization among other considerations.

The Launch Unit is a 60-80 kg small satellite with a 45 cm x 45 cm x 60 cm volume including separation system. In addition to volume, Launch-U makes recommendations for small satellite mass, fundamental frequency and loads. The consortium that developed the Launch-U standard was led by The Aerospace Corporation and comprised of launch providers; payload integrators; and others involved in small satellites including SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Virgin Orbit.

The consortium debuted the Launch-U standards at the 2018 Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah. Since then, Virgin Orbit has announced plans to accommodate satellites that meet the Launch-U requirements, and Firefly Aerospace Inc. has listed Launch-U as part of its Payload User’s Guide.


About Bryce Space and Technology

Founded in 2001, Bryce Space and Technology provides government clients including NASA, FAA, and DoD with programmatic support and in-depth research and analysis and supports commercial clients in market forecasting, analytic decision-making, and industry trends analysis. Recent government projects include federal digital transformation initiatives, creating commercial partnerships for technology development, and shaping R&D investment strategy to manage risk and maximize returns.


Media Contact:

Mark Herzing

About The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation is a national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has approximately 4,000 employees. With major locations in El Segundo, Calif., Albuquerque, N.M., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Washington, D.C., Aerospace addresses complex problems with agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership across the space enterprise and other areas of national significance. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter: @AerospaceCorp.

Media Contact:

Heather Golden
Media Relations, The Aerospace Corporation


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Review the LaunchU standards
Read the Payload User’s Guide

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