"Outstanding, Rex, we applaud you," spacecraft communicator Barry Wilmore said amid cheers from Mission Control.
The four-astronaut crew of Atlantis' STS-135 mission released the PicoSat into orbit via a spring ejection canister at 3:54 a.m. EDT (0754) Wednesday. The mini spacecraft is covered with solar panels to test new solar cell technology.
"We copy that, Houston," Atlantis' commander Chris Ferguson replied. "We'll call the deployment time MET [Mission Elapsed Time] 11 days 16:20."
PicoSat, officially named the Pico-Satellite Solar Cell test bed, is a small rectangular box about 5 inches by 5 inches by 10 inches, and weighs only 8 pounds (3.7 kg). It has its own solid rocket booster propulsion systems, communications capabilities, a GPS unit and solar cells for gathering energy.