News | May 30, 2017

A Satellite Separation System That Can Endure a Rocket Launch

Maryland company advances satellite separations with cost-saving innovation

Few sights are as thrilling as a rocket launch. But imagine you have a very pricey satellite strapped to that rocket with nothing more than a tightly cinched steel band.

If strain causes the band to crack, the mission fails.

Working under an Air Force Small Business Innovation Research contract, Planetary Systems Corporation developed the Lightband satellite separation system, which eliminates two major problems of standard separation systems: fracturing, and shock from the explosives used to break open the band to release the satellite.

Lightband satellite separation technology is now used with a wide range of spacecraft, from commercial imaging satellites to university research and military craft. It has even gone to the moon a couple of times.

This is just one of many successful innovations enabled by the US Air Force’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. For more information, visit