Space Station Astronauts Launch SpinSat; NRL Starts Getting Data

On November 28, 2014, astronauts aboard the International Space Station successfully deployed SpinSat into orbit. SpinSat is a beach ball-like satellite, built by Andy Nicholas and others at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

SpinSat's primary mission is to demonstrate a new thruster technology; researchers will also use it to test the space surveillance network and improve future atmospheric density models.

NASA astronauts Barry Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts unpacked SpinSat from its packaging, and got it ready to be installed on the Cyclops arm. Cyclops deployed SpinSat from the station's Japanese Experiment Module airlock.

On December 3, Nicholas made first contact with SpinSat. He sent the commands to start collecting data on the satellite's spin rate, as SpinSat continued its tumbling orbit around Earth.

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All photos credit: NASA