A rocket upper stage, sometimes called kick stage, is the last stage of a rocket and it is used to deploy satellites in orbit.

A space tug is a spacecraft released from the upper stage and it is used to transfer a satellite from one orbit to another orbit.

Some space tugs can deploy multiple satellites at once, and then they are called "satellite dispenser".

The upper/last stage (or kick stage) of a rocket can be considered a satellite dispenser. But I'm not counting those.

The first satellite dispenser I can find is Moog Inc. that launched a satellite dispenser (does it have a name?) on a Falcon 9 rocket on 14 July 2014.

Is there any satellite dispenser launched before that?

SHERPA is another satellite dispenser that was launched in 2018

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Define satellite dispenser. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ A satellite dispenser is a space tug usually released from the upper stage of a rocket and designed to fly small secondary payloads to their desired location in orbit before deploying them. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Jobs
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ You've excluded kick stages in your question, but you are including space tugs in your comment. It's now very confusing what counts and what doesn't count. I recommend you improve your question with a few more sentences by clicking "edit" rather than leaving contradictory comments. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the edit, thank you! When people ask for clarification it's (usually) really meant in good faith. Even though it may feel completely clear, everybody is different. The goal is to ensure that the question is clear to the widest possible audience. What I've found after asking well over 2,000 Stack Exchange questions is that 99% of the time if someone asks for a clarification, no matter how silly or strange it feels to me, if I just go ahead and clarify everything works out well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ On September 3, 2020, a Vega rocket was launched from the Kourou cosmodrome, which injected 53 satellites with a total weight of 830 kg into various orbits. For this, for the first time on this type of carrier, a modular dispenser was used to accommodate satellites. The satellite dispenser is a new ESA product created by Avio and assembled by the Czech company SAB Aerospace. Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes elapsed from the start to the separation of all satellites. One of the main cargoes is the 112kg ESAIL satellite for the installation of AIS maritime traffic for precise Earth. $\endgroup$
    – TommyJo
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


In 1963 Project West Ford used a dispenser to place 480 million sub-satellites1 in orbit.

1Admittedly, very simple ones.

  • $\begingroup$ The answer is correct for sure but since they are such small satellites, was there any other satellite dispenser used after 1963 and before 2014? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Jobs
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 0:57

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