Deploying CubeSats and MicroSats from the Space Station

Commercial satellite deployment from the International Space Station (ISS), offered by Nanoracks, has proven to be simpler, easier, faster, more secure and lower cost than regular Rideshare satellite launches. As of the end of 2020, Nanoracks has launched more than 200 satellites from the ISS, with manifests continuing to fill up for future missions.

Key benefits of deploying satellites from the ISS include highly reliable launches with flexible launch windows. Payloads enjoy soft stowed, pressurized, ambient temperature on launch with a very short turn around on re-flight.

Want to launch a satellite from the ISS?

How it Works

Bishop ISS Payload Deployment Render

1 – Satellite handover to Nanoracks for a soft ride to the ISS

2 – ISS crew transfer, unpack, inspect and stow satellites

3 – Satellites installed on Bishop, Kaber or CubeSat Deployer

4 – Satellites power-on checks and Airlock depressurization

5 – Robotic arm positions for orbit and satellites are deployed

Why Nanoracks

ISS Satellite Launch Added Value – Not Just Another Rideshare. Download Nanoracks ISS Satellite Deployment Value Proposition.

End-2-End Service

Nanoracks manages all aspects of your launch from contract signature to in-orbit operations. No need to interface with NASA or any other entity. 

Reliable & Flexible Launch

ISS launches are proven to be very reliable with multiple types of vehicles and a predictable schedule. No prime satellite customer will delay the launches as with Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs).

Competitive Price

Competitive to traditional rideshare launch while incorporating numerous value-adds.

Well Defined Orbit

The ISS orbit covers 85% of Earth’s populated areas.

High Quality Imagery

Show your investors exactly where their money is being well spent, while also getting a visual inspection of the satellite on deployment.

Smooth Ride

Soft stowed, pressurized, and ambient temperature at launch. Your spacecraft will not be exposed to the same magnitude of shock, vibration and depressurization as a traditional rideshare mission.

Space Debris Mitigation

One to one and a half year orbit is highly sufficient for most In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) missions, but also means that we are reducing orbital debris and satellites de-orbit naturally.

Technical Configurations and Options



CubeSat Deployer

The Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) is a self-contained CubeSat deployer system that mechanically and electrically isolates CubeSats, and has been in operation since 2014.

The NRCSD consists of anodized aluminum plates, base plate assembly, access panels, and deployer doors. The NRCSD deployer doors are located on the forward end, the base plate assembly is located on the aft end, and access panels are provided on the top. The inside walls of the NRCSD are a smooth bore design to minimize and/or preclude hang-up or jamming of CubeSat appendages during deployment. 

Payload Volume48U total
Form Factor (Single Wide)1U-6U linear
Form Factor (Double Wide)2x3U, 2x6U
Altitude400-420 km
Deployment Timeframe3-6 months post-launch
Nominal TurnoverL-3 Months
Mission Lifetime9-24 Months
Mission CustomizationAvailable by request
Nanoracks 2015


Kaber Deployer

The Nanoracks Kaber MicroSat Deployer (Kaber) is a reusable system that provides command and control for MicroSat deployments from the International Space Station (ISS). 

The Kaber Deployer promotes ISS utilization by enabling deployment into orbit for a class of payload developers normally relying on expendable launch vehicles for space access. MicroSatellites that are compatible with the Nanoracks Kaber Deployer have additional power, volume and communications resources enabling deployment missions in low-Earth orbit of greater scope and sophistication.

Maximum Payload Size106 x 81 x 63 cm
Maximum Mass90 kg
Altitude400-420 km
Deployment Timeframe3-6 months post-launch
Nominal TurnoverL-3 Months
Mission Lifetime9-24 Months
Mission CustomizationAvailable by request
Satellite launch service from Bishop airlock


Bishop Deployer

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock provides several unique capabilities for deploying larger SmallSats from the ISS including the ability to accomodate various satellite sizes in a single sortie.

The Airlock is maneuvered and installed/removed by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS). Astronauts prepare and install payloads and then ground control manages depressurization, EVR and deployment activities. Deployments are performed during an ISS orbital day pass to provide visual confirmation that the payload has properly deployed and ideal conditions for imagery.

Maximum Payload Size137 x 137 x 114 cm
Maximum Mass322 kg
Altitude400-420 km
Deployment Timeframe1-3 months post-launch
Nominal TurnoverL-3 Months
Mission Lifetime9-24 Months
Mission CustomizationAvailable by request