Exolaunch prepares its CarboNIX product, a "shock-free separation system" for microsatellites weighing 10-350 kilograms. Credit: Exolaunch

German launch services provider Exolaunch sees strong demand for the microsatellite separation system, CarboNIX, it qualified on the July 5 Soyuz rideshare mission. Exolaunch integrated 28 of the 32 small satellites that traveled to orbit alongside Russia’s Meteor M2-2 weather satellite.

In the past, Exolaunch relied on its own EXOpod cubesat deployer and EXObox cubesat sequencer but purchased separation systems from other companies. Exolaunch has integrated 84 microsatellites flown on rideshare missions to date.

Based on its experience, the company designed a “shock-free separation system” for microsatellites weighing 15 to 150 kilograms, said Connor Jonas, Exolaunch project manager. “This shock-free system reduces the risk that sensitive electronics are damaged or delicate optical instruments become misaligned.”

Exolaunch plans to rely on CarboNIX for its own rideshare customers.“Having our own microsatellite separation system gives us control over production and lead times, reducing the risk of delays,” Jonas said by email. Since Exolaunch produces CarboNIX in-house, the company can accept satellites for rideshare clusters close to a launch date, he added.

In addition to employing CarboNIX for its own flights, Exolaunch is selling the separation system to other launch service providers.

“We have already received strong interest in CarboNIX from microsatellite manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia,” Jonas said. “We had a number of pre-orders before the flight qualification and now we’re ready to deliver these units to our customers.”

Exolaunch designed and manufactures CarboNIX in Germany. As a result, it’s not subject to stringent export regulations that can delay purchases, Jonas said.

CarboNIX is designed to adapt to any launch system. “Our lab in Berlin can support individualized qualification campaigns for our customer’s microsatellites, including a separation test,” Jonas said.

For the July 5 Soyuz flight, Exolaunch integrated 28 microsatellites on the Fregat upper stage for customers from Germany, France, the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. The smallest satellite Exolaunch integrated on the rideshare mission was only 2.5 centimeters on a side and the largest were 80-kilogram microsatellites.  

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...