The interest in CubeSats and nanosats from both a spacecraft/payload and launch perspective has grown dramatically over the last decade. NASA has played a significant role in fostering the growth of the CubeSat community. Despite the growing interest in CubeSat and NanoSat missions, launch opportunities for this class of spacecraft is only available as secondary payloads. NASA and other government agencies have recently expressed interest in the development of small launch vehicles specifically designed to carry NanoSats as primary payloads. The NEXT program is a clear example of NASA commercial applications. Generation Orbit Launch Services recently won this award, with Tyvak and Ventions as sub-contractors, to deliver a NLV launch opportunity in 2016 to demonstrate their GO-2 dedicated launch vehicle for nano-satellites.
Currently there are over 100 CubeSat developers worldwide building CubeSats, which comprise of government agencies, commercial businesses, non-profits, universities, and high schools. The U.S. Army currently has a program called Soldier-Warfighter Operationally Responsive Deployer for Space (SWORDS) and DARPA has a program called Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA), which both aim to increase the technology readiness level of nano-satellite and small-satellite class launch vehicles. In addition, there are multiple commercial businesses that require reliable sources for nanosat launch. The technology developed under this NASA SBIR would have direct tangible benefits to both U.S. Government and commercial programs alike. In addition to the specific launch vehicle applications, Tyvak has also been exploring additional areas of commercialization where low-mass, high-integration, flexibility, and reliability are paramount. The unmanned vehicles industry is a natural target for additional applications, and using the avionics suite in ground, aerial, surface and underwater vehicles would modernize UAV capabilities in the same way Tyvak is modernizing small-satellite and Launch Vehicle platforms. Additionally, this avionics package could be used for other upcoming space applications like small interplanetary landers (e.g. for the Google Lunar X-Prize), where mass and reliability play a very important part.