Interplanetary Rideshare Accommodations for SmallSats
ULA would like to offer mission solutions to the CubeSat community beyond a dedicated launch vehicle. Rideshare provides satellite developers the opportunity to fly their spacecraft in an inexpensive and reliable manner. The ability to marry Rideshare and Earth-escape disposal of the Atlas-Centaur upper stage provides some new capabilities for performing interplanetary science exploration using CubeSats. ULA mission delivery approaches for CubeSats can take advantage of the newest developments and technologies. One is the operational Aft Bulkhead Carrier (ABC), which can launch up to 24 1U CubeSats to orbit. Second is the Aquila system developed by Adaptive Launch Solutions, which allows for up to a 1000 Kg spacecraft to be launch from inside the Aquila system. A third is the ULA's Lite-electric 3’rd stage (MULE) "tug" that uses an ESPA ring structure as a delivery system. HALL thrusters, using iodine as propellant, would provide for Mars capture and on-orbit maneuvering with 3X the density of xenon. Once in orbit, the MULE can deploy CubeSats from multiple NPSCuL carrier systems. After deployment, the MULE can act as a data relay station for a comm-link between the CubeSats and the Earth DSN. This paper outlines a potential mission opportunity.