INCOSE-LA Chapter Speaker Meeting - Using a System-of-Systems Approach to Create and Test Interorbital’s NEPTUNE Small-Sat Launcher with Randa Milliron

El Segundo , USA
The Aerospace Corporation, 200 North Aviation Blvd., Bldg. D8, Room 1010
Deborah Cannon (310-336-8341)

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Randa Milliron is the CEO and co-founder of Interorbital Systems (IOS), a private-sector rocket manufacturing and orbital space launch corporation based since 1996 in Mojave, California. In addition to her corporate duties at IOS, Ms. Milliron has two decades of academic involvement, working as a Professor of Communication at colleges in Europe and America. She is currently a faculty member at the University of Phoenix. An award-winning television writer/director/producer, she served as a Television News Director at AFN Berlin. Randa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Existential Phenomenological Psychology and a Master of Arts in African Languages from Duquesne University. She spent two years as doctoral candidate in Communication at Humboldt Universitaet, Berlin, Germany, and has undertaken additional formal studies in Chemistry at Cal Poly, Pomona. Her current scientific involvement at Interorbital Systems includes experimentation in the development of heat-resistant composite materials. She also acts as IOS’ Director of Marketing and as federal space launch licensing coordinator.


The expense of buying passage for a small satellite payload is often more than a small business or an academic institution can afford, and usually more than a government or military entity would like to spend. Waiting for an opportunity to launch as a secondary payload is often a frustrating, if not endless process. Global competitions among hundreds of student satellite projects for these rare flights leave all but the one or two lucky winners without a ride to orbit. An inexpensive, dedicated launcher; an assortment of affordable small satellite kits; and low-cost, rapid-response launch services are urgently needed to create and carry small experimental, academic, government, art, and military payloads to orbit. Interorbital Systems’ (IOS) NEPTUNE modular rocket series: N1; N3; N5; and N8 LUNA; and IOS’ Personal Satellite Kits will fill those needs. Creating a rocket system like NEPTUNE and keeping it low-cost is possible only through using a Systems-of-Systems approach for design, build, and test phases.

The N1 is designed to launch a 20-kg small-sat payload(s) to LEO for under $1 million. Interorbital’s orbital launch manifest now numbers 157 picosats. Orbital launch services are set to begin in Q1, 2020, followed by a 2021 Moon impactor mission, Lunar Bullet, with Ed Belbruno’s Innovative Orbital Design.

A 2019 suborbital launch of the NEPTUNE CPM 2.0 will test IOS’ guidance and control systems and provide a platform for flight-testing significant science applications and breakthrough technologies like the Wayfinder II, a 3U CubeSat and hosted–payload platform designed and integrated by Boreal Space, NASA Ames Research Park. It carries a mission called SHRINE. SHRINE stands for the Stanford, Hakuto, Raymix, Inventor, NUS Experiment. Five separate organizations provided payloads for integration into the Wayfinder spacecraft bus. The Extreme Environments Lab at Stanford University supplied a Gallium-Nitride-based magnetic-field instrumentation payload. Japan’s Team Hakuto (now iSpace), provided a robotics experiment to validate their hardware and software assembly. The National University of Singapore contributed a materials experiment to research potential changes to a graphene sample when subjected to launch loads. Space Inventor of Aalborg, Denmark supplied their SpaceLink UHF radios for which they seek TRL advancement. Finally, the popular Latin American artist Raymix contributed a musical piece for downlink from the SpaceLink radios. This launch’s flight data will complement payload performance data, allowing participating teams to iterate and improve designs, and raise Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for future missions.  This launch is a multi-system test under the rigors of flight.

In this presentation Ms. Milliron will share insights on how Systems-of-Systems methodology was used to develop a solution for the, in-demand, small satellite rapid-response launch needs.

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