Astra’s Apollo Fusion Thruster Ignites on First Attempt in Orbit with Spaceflight

A complete ACE Max thruster unit being tested. (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

Ignition demonstrates technology-proven and cost-effective electric propulsion (EP) system 

ALAMEDA, Calif., August 24, 2021 (Astra Space/Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR), today announced the successful orbital ignition of its Apollo Fusion thruster on board the Spaceflight Sherpa-LTE1 orbital transfer vehicle (OTV). The Sherpa OTV launched June 30 from SpaceX’s Transporter-2 mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After successfully deploying all rideshare payloads, Spaceflight commissioned the Apollo Fusion thruster, representing Astra’s first attempt at firing the thruster in orbit, marking a significant technical milestone.  

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Spaceflight Inc. Achieves 100% Mission Success for SXRS-5, Including Post Deployment Thruster Ignition of Its Electric Propulsion OTV

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., August 24, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — During the 36th Space Symposium being held this week, Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, announced it achieved 100% mission success for both its primary and secondary missions for SXRS-5, including the commissioning and successful firing of Astra’s Apollo Fusion electric propulsion system to enable orbital transfers. The mission, which launched on June 30 aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-2 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, featured two of the company’s innovative next-generation Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) — Sherpa-LTE1 and Sherpa-FX2.  

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Spaceflight Inc.’s Next-Gen Sherpa OTV Program Showcases Innovative Modular Design of its Flight-Proven Subsystems

Next-gen Sherpa OTV (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SEATTLE, June 7, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, will debut newly developed technical innovations utilized for its next-generation Sherpa program, enabling small satellite transportation throughout cislunar space in a way that has never been accomplished before. Intentionally architected with modular plug-and-play subsystems, Spaceflight’s next-gen Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) program offers customers flexibility and customization, including multiple types of propulsion for last-mile delivery, flight-proven avionics and separation sequencers, rich deployment telemetry and imaging systems, direct space-to-ground networks, and more. Based on a standardized 24” ESPA port, the Sherpa OTVs offer a reconfigurable 300 kilogram payload capacity and are sized to launch on most rockets.

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Astra Acquires Apollo Fusion

ALAMEDA, Calif. (Astra PR) — Today, we announced that Astra will acquire Apollo Fusion. This acquisition enables Astra to efficiently deliver and operate throughout our solar system, and brings incredible technology and talent into our team.

So, what is this all really about? At Astra we’re focused on rapid and affordable access to space. This really requires two kinds of transportation: You always have to first fly from Earth to a low orbit on the edge of space, and Astra shines in getting you to the best possible low orbit for your mission. However, often you need to keep going — to fly higher in space for your operational mission. And this is where Apollo comes in.

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Apollo Fusion Propulsion Systems Selected by Saturn Satellite Networks

A complete ACE Max thruster unit being tested. (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

Mountain View, Calif. (Apollo Fusion PR) – December 16, 2020 – Saturn Satellite Networks Inc. has selected Apollo Fusion propulsion systems for Saturn’s NationSat geostationary communications satellites. The Apollo 1.4 kW ACE Max propulsion system will be used for orbit transfer to geosynchronous orbit and on-orbit station keeping on 15 year missions.

Saturn selected Apollo Fusion because Apollo’s unique Electric Propulsion system supports the Saturn objectives to enable its NationSat small GEO sats to perform functions of much larger satellites, hence substantially reducing the barrier to spacecraft development and manufacturing.

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Spaceflight Inc. Unveils Propulsive Orbital Transfer Vehicles to Launch Smallsats to Custom Orbital Destinations

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

New OTVs, slated to launch in 2021, will minimize the impact of extended development timelines and schedule delays while providing increased launch flexibility 

SEATTLE, November 12, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, announced today that it is developing two additional next-generation orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) that will debut in 2021. Its first, Sherpa-FX, will fly on a fully dedicated rideshare mission with SpaceX, dubbed SXRS-3 by Spaceflight, no earlier than December 2020. The next two ESPA-class space vehicles in the company’s portfolio are designed to provide more orbital diversification, including flexible manifest changes, deployment to multiple altitudes and orbital planes, and rapid launch solutions. 

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Apollo Fusion, Inc. Lands NASA JPL License and Manufacturing Contract

A complete ACE thruster unit being tested. (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 7, 2019 — Today Apollo Fusion, Inc. is excited to announce it has been awarded an exclusive, worldwide commercial license to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) MaSMi (Magnetically Shielded Miniature) Hall thruster, the world’s first low-power (≤1.0 kW) magnetically shielded Hall thruster.

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OrbitBeyond Teams with Team Indus, Honeybee Robotics for NASA Lunar Program

Video Caption: OrbitBeyond has been awarded the master contract by NASA for its CLPS program to carry scientific & commercial payloads to the Moon: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/na…

The Engineering team at OrbitBeyond is led by Jeff Patton, former Development Program Systems Engineering and Integration Manager at ULA.

OrbitBeyond has engaged TeamIndus for Lander engineering, Honeybee Robotics for payload integration, Advanced Space for mission management, Ceres Robotics for surface operations, and Apollo Fusion for future programs.

About OrbitBeyond

OrbitBeyond. Inc, is a cislunar transportation company committed to providing global customers with reliable, repeated and affordable services to the lunar surface. We are developing delivery platforms at a cost and scale that will enable rapid and sustained space exploration.











Apollo Fusion Raises $10 million to Ramp Production of Satellite Thrusters

ACE thruster firing (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Apollo Fusion PR) — Satellite propulsion company Apollo Fusion recently closed their Series B round of $10 million from Reid Hoffman from Greylock Partners. Reid Hoffman, also the co-Founder of LinkedIn, has joined Apollo Fusion’s Board of Directors.

Apollo’s mission is to help “enable the second space race” with a new satellite propulsion system that delivers 3 times more total impulse per kg (or per volume) than existing propulsion systems on the market.

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