Atomos Space Finalizes $5M Investment to Advance In-space Transportation Services

DENVER (Atomos Space PR) — Atomos Space announces an investment from Cantos Ventures bringing the total capital raised in 2021 to $5M. Cantos, an experienced deep tech investor, joined this round with another undisclosed aerospace investor to realize the future of space mobility and logistics. Atomos Space, based in Denver, Colorado, is building orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) to help satellite operators get to their place in space. Founded by Vanessa Clark and William Kowalski in late 2017, Atomos has won and executed over $2M in contracts with NASA, the US Air Force, and US Space Force, and currently has over $200M of customer interest for in-space mobility.

While the barrier to entry for satellites to get to space has decreased significantly, many applications require orbits unavailable to satellites ridesharing with a larger payload. Enter Atomos’ OTVs. By capturing client satellites and transporting them to their target operational orbit, Atomos solves the last-mile problem in space at a fraction of the cost of dedicated launch. “Some customers need to procure multiple dedicated launches to deploy their constellation,” said Atomos co-founder and COO, William Kowalski. “Our services halve their launch costs.”

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SpaceX’s Transporter-3 Launch Places 105 Satellites into Orbit

Falcon 9 launches the Transporter-3 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Thursday, January 13 at 10:25 a.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched Transporter-3, SpaceX’s third dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. On board this launch were 105 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, PocketQubes, and orbital transfer vehicles).

This was the tenth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 stage booster, which previously supported launch of Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, and five Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Spaceflight Inc. Readies 13 Payloads and Chemical Propulsion OTV for First Multi-Destination Rideshare Mission

Rendering of Spaceflight Inc.’s Sherpa-LTC1 orbital transfer vehicle. (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SEATTLE, Nov. 9, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) —Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, announced today it will be launching 13 customer payloads, including four microsatellites and nine CubeSats to Sun Synchronous orbit (SSO) aboard the SpaceX Transporter-3 mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than January 2022 from Cape Canaveral. On this mission, which the company has dubbed ‘SXRS-6,’ Spaceflight will deploy customer spacecraft to two distinct orbits for the first time using its chemical propulsion orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), Sherpa-LTC1. Capping a momentous year for Spaceflight, this mission will be the third debut of a new class of Sherpa vehicles within 12 months. 

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Skyrora Signs Decade-long, Multi-launch Deal with Shetland Spaceport

Skyrora XL lifts off the launch pad. (Credit: Skyrora)

EDINBURGH, 12th October 2021 (Skyrora PR) — British rocket company Skyrora has agreed a multi-launch deal with the SaxaVord spaceport on Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands, as it moves closer to launching its XL rocket in 2022. This is the first agreement Skyrora has made with a Scottish Spaceport. If successful, this could be the first rocket to go to space from the UK. The multi-launch agreement with SaxaVord will run for the next decade, giving Skyrora the ability to build towards their target of 16 launches a year by 2030. 

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Delivering Fuel in Geostationary Orbit, Via the Moon

Credit: Orbit Fab

SAN FRANCISCO, September 24, 2021 (Orbit Fab PR) — Already the leading supplier of refueling ports for satellites, Orbit Fab announced that it will soon be launching the first propellant tanker to geostationary orbit. The company’s second tanker will establish flight heritage on all the elements of the company’s tanker technology, which has been designed for the harshest orbital regimes and for refueling the largest space assets. This announcement comes on the heels of the company’s successful launch of the world’s first Gas Stations in SpaceTM propellant depot last June into a low Earth orbit.

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Space System Command’s Launch Enterprise Awards Four Prototype Agreements

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SSC PR) — Space Systems Command (SSC) is partnering with industry on prototype projects to invest in next-generation rocket engine testing and upper stage resiliency enhancements.

SSC’s Launch Enterprise today awarded FY21 prototype projects for Raptor Rapid Throttling and Restart Testing; Liquid Methane Specification Development and Testing; and Combustion Stability Analysis and Testing to SpaceX for $14.47 million, for Uplink Command and Control for Centaur V to United Launch Alliance for $24.35 million, for Upper Stage Development for Neutron to Rocket Lab for $24.35 million, and for Cryogenic Fluid Management for Glenn Stage 2 to Blue Origin for $24.35 million, under the National Security Space Launch program using the Space Development Corps’ Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC).

Prototype projects for orbital transfer and maneuver are anticipated for award in early FY22, pending congressional approval of the FY22 budget request;

Spaceflight Inc.’s New Launch Contracts Bolster Growth of Space Infrastructure

New OTV missions seed infrastructure for situational awareness, IoT communications and fuel depots throughout LEO, GEO and cislunar

SEATTLE, Sept. 21, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced it has recently signed several new launch agreements with a wide range of organizations that are expanding space infrastructure. The satellite constellations provide communications networks, device connectivity, weather forecasts, Earth observation, analytics networks, spacecraft collision avoidance, propellant depots, and more. Spaceflight is actively planning several Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) missions to support these efforts in low Earth orbit (LEO), Geosynchronous Equatorial orbit (GEO) and other cislunar destinations.

Notably, Spaceflight has signed new launch deals with Astrocast, Canon Electronics, Capella Space, GeoJump, HawkEye 360, Orbit Fab, Loft Orbital, NASA, NearSpace Launch Inc. / Inter-Modal Holding LLC, Portland State Aerospace Society, Space Products and Innovation (SPiN), Spacemanic, University of Toronto Aerospace Team, Xona Space Systems, and several undisclosed U.S. government organizations.

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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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Eight Companies Join Catalyst Accelerator’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing Cohort

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 19, 2021 (Catalyst Accelerator PR) — Eight small businesses will come together virtually from across the country for the Catalyst Accelerator’s cohort focused on On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing.

The Catalyst Accelerator, powered by the Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), was developed to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer for the government to industry and vice versa. The implications for in-space manufacturing are seemingly limitless. Therefore, the US Space Force, in conjunction with AFRL/RV, is seeking bold and disruptive technologies enabling on-orbit servicing and manufacturing.

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Exolaunch Introduces Eco Space Tug Program

Reliant orbital transfer vehicle (Credit: Exolaunch)

New Fully Sustainable Orbital Transfer Vehicles Will Launch Small Satellites to Custom Orbits and Remove Space Debris 

BERLIN, Germany, April 12, 2021 (Exolaunch PR) – Exolaunch, the leading rideshare services provider for the NewSpace industry and trendsetter in deployment solutions, today introduced its space tug program, featuring a new line of revolutionary orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) that will launch satellites to custom orbits in an environmentally responsible way – the first of its kind in the OTV industry. The company’s space tug testing and flight qualification will begin in 2022 on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rideshare missions.

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Spaceflight Inc. Awarded NASA LLITED Launch Contract

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SEATTLE (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced today it has been awarded a launch service contract for the integration and launch of NASA’s LLITED mission, two 1.5U spacecraft. Spaceflight Inc. will transport the NASA Low-Latitude Ionosphere/Thermosphere Enhancements in Density (LLITED) CubeSats to low Earth orbit on its Sherpa-LTC orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) at the end of the year aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. For this mission, the Sherpa-LTC, which uses chemical propulsion from Benchmark Space Systems, will make its initial spacecraft deployments and then ignite and maneuver to another orbital destination to deploy the NASA CubeSats.

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Spaceflight Inc. Signs Multiple Launch Agreements to Start 2021, Leveraging Its Success Managing Both “Bus and Taxi” Smallsat Launches

SHERPA (Spaceflight Inc.)

Company reveals more dedicated launches, propulsive OTVs, and GTO/lunar missions to satisfy growing demand for flexible and comprehensive launch services

SEATTLE, March 3, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc.) — Spaceflight Inc., the global launch services provider, announced it has started the year by signing several significant launch agreements with a wide range of organizations, including growing constellations needing routine and reliable launch schedules, smaller payloads requiring affordable bus-like options to popular orbits, firms needing regulatory and logistical guidance, as well as those seeking a personalized taxi service from loading dock to final orbital destination.

Organizations that recently signed launch deals with Spaceflight include Lynk, Astro Digital, Kleos, BlackSky, Umbra, Orbit Fab and several undisclosed U.S. government payloads.

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SpaceX Launches Record 143 Satellites

Falcon 9 launches Transporter-1 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX set a new world record on Sunday by launching 143 satellites into Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Sunday morning polar orbit launch included 133 commercial and government spacecraft along with 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband communications constellation. The launch was conducted from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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