The spaceflyers have been installing special equipment that will launch 33 "cubesats" from the space station this month, with the first round of ejections scheduled to take place on Thursday (Feb. 6).
"We believe this will be a world-record deployment, of the number of satellites in one deployment," Michael Johnson, chief technology officer of the space-hardware firm NanoRacks, said in a NASA video last week. [Photos: How Tiny Satellites Launch from Space Station]
NanoRacks helps organize and integrate some research activites aboard the space station. The company built eight new deployers that will launch the 33 cubesats, which were delivered to the orbiting lab Jan. 12 on the first contracted cargo mission of Orbital Sciences' unmanned Cygnus resupply spacecraft.
Six cubesats will be launched from the station Thursday, NASA officials said. The rest will begin flying freely over the course of the following two weeks or so.