Smallsat Deployment Adapters

Smallsat Launch Adapter Structure


Smallsat Launch Adapter Structure

Customers: SEOPS LLC and Quad-M Inc.


Space launch. Space-X Falcon 9 rideshare payload scheduled to fly December 2021.

Previous Limiting Technology

Previous structures were large, expensive, and heavy aluminum structures. By converting to a composite structure, the customer was able to allot more of their mass budget to orbital payloads rather than the adapter structure.


This is a launch adapter manifold that mounts an array of smallsat deployers to the launch vehicle. Fourteen (14) launchers are arrayed around the octagon and two (2) are mounted on the flat “top” to manifold together for a total of sixteen (16). The challenge was to create structure sufficiently stiff to meet minimum natural frequency requirements and shock loads. The orientation and weight of the “top” payload drove much of the structural needs and had to be closely coordinated with the customer. Fabrication challenges related to core shaping meant creating specialty core forming tools, validating, and implementing a new process.


Rather than using high-cost high modulus composite material, Rock West recommended standard modulus material with published material allowables to allow for a clear path to launch provider acceptance and cost avoidance.

Product/Service Areas

Space and Research, Design and Engineering, Tooling, and Testing.