It costs a fortune to launch even a small satellite into orbit. Swiss Space Systems hopes to change that with its S3 concept, intending to become world leader in the cost-effective delivery of small satellites.
Its innovative approach calls for the manufacture of unmanned suborbital shuttles for small (up to 250 kg) satellite deployment, with the first test flight scheduled for 2017. The shuttle will be launched from a Zero-G certified Airbus A300 at an altitude of 10 000 m and climb to 80 km before releasing the satellite from its cargo bay. The satellite’s engine would then kick in to lift it into orbit while the reusable shuttle returns to the spaceport.
Not only would their system require much less fuel, says Swiss Space Systems, but the flight could be called off and the satellite returned to Earth in the er… unlikely event of anything going wrong. As the company says: “…we are building the most economic and ecological model available today. The main components used during the flight are reusable”.
Watch a 3D animation explaining how the S3 launching system for small satellites will work…