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You'll be definitely better off with thrusters on individual cubesats, when taking the total mass: last stage + payload, into consideration. To create the distance needed, with a single launch, you'll need to put the satellites into an elliptical orbit tangent to the target one, but of period longer or shorter by 1/8 or an integer fraction multiple of 1/8. ...


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I was looking for a constellations of smallsats (they are not cubesats) that were able to space themselves out using only drag. I hypothesized it was TROPICS but that hasn't been launched yet. But I finally found it, and it turns out to be CYGNSS and is discussed in How can the CYGNSS spacecrafts (actually) measure ocean roughness?. The technique is called ...


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