The shape memory alloy (SMA)-actuated separation devices that are currently used in small satellites were usually designed to handle large separation loads. As a result, they have complex structures, large footprints, and high power consumptions. In this paper, we report a simpler and more compact separation device. A design methodology for the load-shifting SMA actuator (LSSA) used in a device was developed. Four prototypes were fabricated and tested to demonstrate the design concept and the LSSA design methodology. Experiments showed that this separation device has the merits of a quick response time, compact size, and simple structure, which give it potential for small-satellite applications.