On August 7 at the SmallSat 2017 Conference in Logan, Utah, NanoRacks announced that it will be adding polar orbit launch opportunities for small satellites into its portfolio of commercial launch opportunities. As part of the effort, NanoRacks will work with Berlin-based Astro- und Feinwerktechnik Adlershof GmbH (Astrofein) to manufacture and supply deployers.
NanoRacks intends to utilize an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to carry the deployer and its payloads into orbit. However, NanoRacks has yet to secure a launch slot on the popular PSLV and is currently working with the Indian Space Research Organisation’s commercial arm, Antrix to work out a deal.
NanoRacks’s best known service is deploying satellites from the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) and Kaber Deployer installed on the International Space Station (ISS) as well as from the External NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (E-NRCSD) mounted on the outside of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft. However, according to Senior Vice President of Business Development, Richard Pournelle, the company has “received significant customer demand for polar orbits.” The ISS and Cygnus deployers cannot achieve polar orbits, convincing NanoRacks to seek other options.
The move will place NanoRacks into competition with Spaceflight Industries, which is developing the Sherpa SmallSat deployer. Sherpa was scheduled to liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2017, but delays in the Falcon 9 schedule forced Spaceflight to find other rides for its customers. According to the company, the Sherpa is ready to fly, and will be launched on a later flight.