This article mentions the deployment of a couple of "subsatellites" into lunar orbit from the Apollo 15 and 16 spacecraft. I had never previously heard of any such action being taken. Where were these subsatellites stowed aboard the Apollo spacecraft, and how were they released from it? Did they have their own thrust capability for deployment?


1 Answer 1


They were deployed from the Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) bay in the Service Module. There's a long write-up here. The launcher was spring-loaded.

The SIM bay was a volume in the Service Module which was loaded with scientific instruments. The SIM bay cover was jettisoned around 75 hours into the mission according to The Apollo Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) Cameras website.

Besides the subsatellites, one of the major scientific payloads consisted of film cameras. The CM pilot did an EVA to retrieve the film.

Artist's rendition from wikipedia including the satellite (I just noticed this picture was in the article you started with, so I outlined the SIM bay):

enter image description here

And here's a real picture of the SIM bay:

enter image description here

There's a long history of spring-loaded small subsatellite launches throughout the US human spaceflight program. The last picture ever taken of a Shuttle in space was taken from just such a subsatellite:

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So the bay has/had a cover panel which must have been in place at launch and was ejected at some point during the mission? What other instruments would have been housed in that bay? $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Mar 30, 2015 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ I thought your comment led to some good additional info so I put it in the actual answer. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2015 at 1:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.