Planetary Systems Corporation


News: PSC Lightband Ensures Successful Mission Completion

The Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) demonstration mission was successfully jettisoned from the International Space Station on 26 June 2017. Planetary Systems provided the 23.250inch MkII Motorized Lightband used to separate the array from the station’s robotic arm. From NASA:

“Following a week of successful science operations on the experiment for the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), attempts to retract the array were unsuccessful. The ISS Mission Management Team met Monday morning and made the decision to jettison ROSA directly from its location at the end of the space station’s robotic arm, where it remained fully deployed in a normal configuration.”

Separation dynamics exceeded requirements as tip off rates were near zero. PSC continues to be a trusted partner for manned space flight missions. A video of the deployment is on youtube.

23.250in Lightband Upper Ring connected to base of the ROSA demonstration shown after successful deployment from ISS

News: PSC Offering Free Workshops at Small Satellite Conference

PSC will be holding free Canisterized Satellite Dispenser (CSD) and Motorized Lightband (MLB) workshops to improve understanding of separation system best practices. If you or your organization has used a CSD or MLB, are currently using a CSD or MLB, or would like to know more about them this workshop will be invaluable.

The workshop will be led by Walter Holemans, PSC’s Chief Engineer. Topics will include:

1. Avoiding common mistakes in small satellite design, build, and test
2. Using CSD and MLB specific features to reduce mission cost and risk
3. Optimizing mission design and planning

Multiple sessions of the workshop will be offered during the 30th Annual Small Satellite Conference, August 6-11 at Utah State University. Details are available by request through Or stop by Booth 53 during the conference for dates and times. Each session is free and will last approximately 45 minutes. We hope to see you there!

News: PSC to Hold Free Workshops at Upcoming Trade Shows

PSC will be holding a free Canisterized Satellite Dispenser (CSD) workshop to enhance engineers’ understanding of cubesat separation system best practices. The workshop will be taught by Walter Holemans, PSC’s Chief Engineer. Topics will include:

1. Avoiding common mistakes in cubesat design, build, and test
2. Using CSD-specific features to reduce mission cost and risk
3. Optimizing mission design and planning

Multiple sessions of the workshop will be offered during the 13th Cubesat Workshop from April 20-22 held at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Details are available by request through Or stop by our booth in the main atrium for dates and times. The course is free and will last approximately 50 minutes. If you or your organization has used a CSD, are currently using a CSD, or would like to know more about CSDs this workshop will be invaluable. PSC plans to offer additional workshops on CSD and Lightband at future trade shows. Look for continuing details on our website.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

News: PSC Improves Hardware Inspection via Automation

Flight hardware inspection consumes a significant amount of time and resources. As PSC sales continue to increase, the quantity of parts to inspect naturally rises. In order to improve inspection efficiency while not sacrificing quality, PSC turned to a common solution: automation. A new image dimensional measurement tool has been procured and the inspection process has been redesigned around it. The tool uses a tunable high-resolution image of a part to compare specified dimensions to machined dimensions. Inspectors can program and save this information for future inspections. The tool also includes automatic recognition of difficult-to-measure features such as threads and radii. After a part’s profile is complete and saved the inspector can quickly recall it, place multiple parts on the tool, and measure the parts in seconds. Results are saved and the inspector immediately knows if the parts meet drawing specifications. Automated inspection is saving PSC time and increasing the fidelity of our inspection process.

News: PSC invests in Data Acquisition upgrades

PSC is upgrading our internal data acquisition (DAQ) system used for all hardware and testing. Lessons learned from years of operating, fixing, and upgrading the current system resulted in a robust and capable design that will see significant improvement across all use cases. PSC’s lead engineer on the program, Floyd Azure, answered a few questions.

1) Why is this upgrade important?
This DAQ upgrade is important because it improves on our current capability to reliably test our products. We are moving to National Instruments PXI technology which will be the foundation for future testing and production.

2) What are two major improvements over the current system?
a. The PXI technology allows each module independent communication to the host computer.  Essentially, we can acquire data and send commands in parallel. Our old technology had to be executed and monitored sequentially.
b. The data bandwidth is substantially higher and has 24-bit DAQ capability.  This allows for more precise data measurements, and allows us to sample a higher frequency bandwidth.  This is a great upgrade for mechanical shock testing and acquired telemetry from our products.

3) What is one major challenge you came across during the upgrade development and what was the solution?
The major challenge is predicting what we will need in the next 5 years. I relied on national instruments modular capability to overcome these unforeseen challenges. Hopefully if new or challenging tasks come along, a solution will be as easy as selecting a new module to handle the task.

Thanks Floyd. We look forward to reaping the benefits the new system will provide.

News: PSC Bolsters Product Line

PSC has been awarded a contract for a 24 inch diameter Motorized Lightband (MLB). This diameter Lightband is compatible with the “ESPA Grande” Secondary Payload Adapter ring. PSC has offered the 24 inch diameter model since qualification in 2009, and this is the first one to be sold. This sale augments the range of 13 diameters of MLB that PSC produces . This offering is expected to gain in popularity as missions parameters converge on this useful spacecraft size.

News: PSC completes assembly of bulk order

PSC completed assembly of a first lot of six Lightbands for a commercial customer.  We assembled the units on an accelerated schedule. Next comes full acceptance testing of all Lightbands: strength, vibration, thermal vacuum and separation reliability.  We’ll complete about twenty Lightband separations on each unit in the extremes of environmental testing before the customer sees the unit. This is how we test-verify performance so our customers may be certain of reliability.

News: Record Year for PSC in 2014

PSC had a record year in 2014 delivering 8 Lightbands and 4 Canisterized Satellite Dispensers (CSDs).  These numbers represent a 100% increase in deliveries over 2013 for both Lightbands and CSDs.  Additionally, PSC received and refurbished one Lightband before delivering it back to the customer in 2014.  All of these products were sold to a wide array of commercial and government organizations.

The increase in deliveries this year was made possible by several factors.  Greater marketing efforts led to more industry awareness of product capabilities.  A new inventory management system improved the assembly process and decreased overall duration.  Several process audits conducted during the year also led to better efficiency in product requirement definition and environmental testing.

Interest in PSC’s satellite separation systems continues to be strong as the year ends.  PSC is working hard to constantly improve our products and maintain a 100% operational success rate for our customers.

News: PSC Successfully Deploys Proba-V Payload on ESA Vega Rocket

In early 2013 PSC delivered a fully-tested 15 inch MkII Motorized Lightband to ESA for use on the new VEGA rocket. The Lightband successfully separated the Proba-V payload from the rocket on 7 May 2013. This international collaboration expands PSC’s ability to deliver hardware directly to foreign customers.

News: PSC Prepares for Falcon 9 Launch Integration of 3U Canisterized Satellite Dispenser

PSC will support launch integration of a 3U CSD that will deploy the POPACS cubesat. The satellite consists of three spheres restrained in four aluminum spacers, preloaded within the CSD during launch. Upon deployment from the CSD the POPACS components will immediately separate from each other. The mission of POPACS is to measure the changes in density of the auroral zone upper atmosphere in response to various solar stimuli such as flares and CMEs.