Making space accessible. That’s Defining Possible.

Modular and Cost-Effective

Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar platform provides a modular, cost-effective and highly capable infrastructure resource for hosting technology development and operational payloads. The ESPAStar platform uses a customized EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) ring as part of its structure and is capable of being launched aboard any launch vehicle that meets the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) standard interface specification, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

A satellite in orbit in space above earth

ESPAStar Platform

The ESPAStar platform’s six payload ports are capable of accommodating any combination of up to six hosted and 12 separable (fly-away) payloads (maximum one hosted or two separables per port). The payload interface at each port has been standardized, allowing for hosted and separable payload interchangeability, late payload integration and manifest changes. The ESPAStar platform leverages the available mass margin from any EELV launch to provide an affordable path to space for payloads. The platform is optimized for GEO missions, but is adaptable for LEO and MEO missions.

Mission Services

  • Mission Analysis
  • Payload Integration
  • Testing and Verification
  • Launch Vehicle Integration
  • Launch Operations
  • Mission Operation
  • Safety & Mission Assurance

ESPAStar Facts at a Glance

  • Accommodates combinations of hosted (6 max) or separable (12 max) payloads at all mounting ports
  • 1,920 kg payload (320 kg per Port)
  • Multi-year mission life
  • 1.6 Mbps downlink, AFSCN-compatible, Type 1 encryption
  • Low jitter
  • Attitude knowledge <20 μrad (1σ)
  • ≥400 m/s delta-V, any direction
  • EELV SIS Rev B compliant Full complement of electrical interfaces
  • Power
  • Data
  • Discrete I/O
ESPAStar-D Datasheet ESPAStar Product Line Datasheet ESPAStar-HP Datasheet

ESPAStar in the News


ESPAStar™: A Freight Train to Space

Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar platform enables secondary payloads to tag along with other missions, utilizing extra available space on launch vehicles, providing …

spacecraft on luanching pad

Making History in Space – Every Day

Northrop Grumman’s Antares vehicle regularly launches thousands of pounds of cargo in Cygnus spacecraft for the International Space Station. 

satellite in clean room

Northrop Grumman Delivers ESPAStar bus to L3Harris for Air Force NTS-3 Mission

The NTS-3 program supports the improvement of positioning, navigation and timing services for the Air Force

rendering of satellite above earth

Northrop Grumman-built Satellite to Support US Space Force National Security Mission

rendering of satellite above earth

Northrop Grumman heralds converted adapter rings as rideshare solution for military payloads

rendering of satellite above earth

ESPA satellites maturing as the preferred ride for small national security payloads

rendering of satillite in space above earth

Northrop Grumman Supports Successful United States Space Force-44 Mission

Northrop Grumman hardware and software enables multiple missions on single launch

rendering of satillite in space above earth

Northrop Grumman Supports Successful US Space Force-12 Mission from Liftoff to Orbit

Mission launched onboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket

rocket launch at night

Northrop Grumman Makes Critical Contributions to STP-3 Mission for US Space Force

Photo Credit: ULA webcast

satellite above earth

Northrop Grumman gets $22 million Space Force contract to build small-satellite carrier bus

Source: Space News. Photo Credit: U.S. Space Force

Tracker trailer driving packaged spacecraft from Northrop Grumman facility

Northrop Grumman Expands Gilbert, Arizona Satellite Facility to Meet Growing NASA and National Security Space Program Needs