DigitalGlobe MDA Radiant Solutions SSL

Access to Space

Payload Orbital Delivery System (PODS)

PODS is a cost-effective system for sending small satellites to orbit. It carries small spacecraft to orbit attached to large satellites, and then dispenses them as free-flyers near GEO. With an average of 6 satellites launched each year, SSL can help you find a ride to space!

PODS is a cost-effective rideshare to GEO for small satellites
US Patent Pending, Application #14/716,795


Mission Concept

Mission Concept



SmallSat drop-off locations tailored to meet the mission needs. Applications include:

• Space Situational Awareness • Technology Demo with Rapid Refresh
• Deep Space Missions
(Moon, Mars, Asteroids)
• Satellite Servicing
(Inspection / Repair / Refueling)
• GEO “slot holder” satellite • Constellation Deployment
• Earth Observation • Heliophysics / Astrophysics Missions

Dispensed From Various Locations on the Satellite

Dispensed From Various Locations on the Satellite



Deployed using dispenser of customer's choice. Examples include:


SSL can provide a PODS - Compatible bus designed to meet your payload needs

SSL can provide a PODS-compatible bus designed to meet your payload needs
PODS Bus Parameters:
SmallSat wet mass: Nominally 75kg
Payload mass: Nominally 15 kg
Design life: 5 years
Dimensions: 1m x 0.5m x 0.4m
Power: up to 50W at 28V

Timeline for PODS Missions

Event Milestone Date (Months)
Host Contract Signing Launch − 24
SmallSat or SmallSat Mass Model Delivery to SSL Launch − 9
SmallSat Delivery to SSL Launch − 3
SmallSat Final Integration to Host Launch − 2
Combined Host / SmallSat Ship to Launch Base Launch − 1
Launch Launch

User Guide

MicroSatellite Parameter ICD Value
Launch Frequency 6 SSL launch opportunities per year
Nominal Volume including Dispenser 1m x 0.5m x 0.4m (Standard Sizing)
1m x 1m x 0.6m (Extended Sizing)
Nominal Mass 90 kg (Standard Sizing)
150 kg (Extended Sizing)
Available Power 150W average, 300W peak, 28-31 V
State During Launch Off
Data Connection MIL-STD-1553 (optional); other interfaces possible
Thermal Environment -35 °C to + 60 °C non-operating
Launch Dynamics Acoustic, static, vibration, shock envelope of common launch vehicles (Ariane 5, Proton, Falcon 9, Atlas)
Dispensing Orbits Available GTO (at apogee), near GEO (300 km sub or super)
Deployment Video Available Yes


Download the complete SSL PODS Users Guide here.

Download the PODS brochure here.

Contact for more information.

Why Hosted and Dispensed Payloads?

Hosted payloads allow governments, scientific institutions, and organizations the benefit of having their mission payload on board a Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite with shorter lead times at lower costs than dedicated missions.

Dispensed Payloads allow affordable access to GTO or GEO for small missions, with shorter lead times than dedicated missions.

SSL Enabled Benefits For Hosted And Dispensed Payloads

Low Risk Solutions with SSL's Vast Experience

  • Successfully hosted 12 dissimilar payloads since 2001 with two in progress covering all payload types (Scientific, Navigation, Optic / Imaging / IR, and Communications)

Assured Access to Space and Mission Life with SSL Heritage and High Reliability

  • Large beginning-of-life margins easily enable 1-4 year technology demonstrations while the 15+ year bus design life allows mission continuity operations
  • 55+ years of experience with 80+ GEO satellites currently operating worldwide

Frequent / Fast Space Access / Sustained Model with SSL's Frequent Launches

  • Five to eight launches per year to multiple orbit locations for major satellite operators
  • 15+ SSL satellites in backlog with many able to accommodate hosted payloads
  • Hosted payloads can be integrated and launched within the typical commercial GEO satellite timeframe of 22 to 36 months
  • Hosted payloads received for host integration as late as 6 to 12 months prior to launch

Mission Stability Requirements Met with SSL's Proven Platform

  • Demonstrated low on-orbit jitter without isolation measures (GOES I - M, MTSAT-1R)
  • Additional isolation available if needed

Accommodation Flexibility with Highly Scalable 1300 Bus

  • SSL's modular, adaptive bus has inherent flexibility for varying accommodations
  • Processes, policies, integration and test plans and risk mitigation strategies in place for both small and large payloads

Affordable Fixed Cost Access to Space

  • Cost reductions over dedicated missions can result from shared integration, launch, and operations with the host satellite
  • Hosted payloads can benefit from the highly competitive Firm Fixed Price contracts typical of commercial satellites with a fixed accommodation cost

Hosted Payload Operation Options

  • Ability to lease commercial services already on board the commercial communications satellite to transmit data back to Earth
  • Ability to use existing host satellite operations facilities for hosted payload control
  • Shared command and control of the hosted payload through the host satellite or a completely dedicated and separate system operated by the hosted payload owner

SSL Enabled Benefits:

  • More science for smaller budgets
  • Affordable Access to Space
  • Frequent / Fast Access to Space
  • Low Risk Solutions
  • Proven Platform Stability
  • Accommodation Flexibility
  • Fixed Cost
  • Heritage and Reliability
  • Data Downlink Options
  • Shared or Dedicated Operations
  • Payload Control Options

Hosted Payloads with SSL

Available Opportunities Now

  • GEO Comsat owners, manufacturers, and payload developers are eager to pursue hosting or dispensed opportunities now
  • 15+ satellites currently in production at SSL, many of which can easily accommodate hosted or dispensed payloads
  • SSL launches 4-6 satellites per year in multiple orbit locations


SSL Can Provide:

  • Concept development
  • Winning proposal support
  • Space Qualification / early development demos
  • Spacecraft / payload level testing (i.e. dynamics, thermal, environments)
  • Mission planning
  • Launch and on-orbit operations support


SSL is a world leader with extensive experience in providing Hosted Payload Solutions. View a list of our Hosted Payload launch experience here.

Contact Al Tadros at: for more information.