SEATTLE. April 21, 2022 (Spaceflight Inc.) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, is preparing for its 50th mission, which will launch aboard a Rocket Lab Electron no earlier than April 22. The RL-9 mission, called “There and Back Again,” is scheduled to launch from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. Following this launch, Spaceflight will have successfully launched 448 spacecraft across 50 missions across a global network of launch vehicles.
Additional missions provide flexibility and support for growing IoT constellation
SEATTLE, March 22, 2022 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, today announced an extended multi-launch agreement (MLA) with long-time customer, Internet of Things (IoT) constellation developer, Astrocast. This agreement will add two missions to accommodate Astrocast’s fast-growing IoT constellation which helps track assets in some of the world’s most remote regions.
In February of 2020, Astrocast and Spaceflight signed an MLA for the launch of 10 additional IoT nanosatellites, representing the sixth launch booked with Spaceflight. In total, Spaceflight is now set to launch a majority of the satellites that will complete the Astrocast IoT Nanosatellite Network.
The SpaceX Rideshare Team sent an email last Friday morning to an undisclosed list of rideshare customers and that email said:
“For awareness, we will no longer be flying or working with Spaceflight Industries after currently manifested missions. We look forward to reliably launching all customers currently on manifest and growing our relationships with new operators as well.”
In an effort to provide transparency to our customers and the industry, we wanted to share a few additional thoughts and comments.
SpaceX cut ties on Friday with long-time partner Spaceflight Inc., which integrates customer payloads on rideshare launches. SpaceNews reports that the decision surprised Spaceflight Inc. executives, who received a text message just before SpaceX notified rideshare customers via email it would no longer work with the company.
The article recounts that a Spaceflight Sherpa space tug from the Transporter-3 launch in December due to a leak in the propulsion system provided by Benchmark Space Systems. SpaceX also declined to fly a Sherpa on its upcoming Transporter-4 mission next month due to a different concern.
Another possibility is the SpaceX is bringing rideshare integration inhouse. The company has done similar things in the past in order to become more vertically integrated and less dependent upon partners and suppliers.
There is also an unconfirmed rumor that SpaceX will soon be offering the satellite bus used for its Starlink constellation to other companies at a very low price. The decision to cut ties with Spaceflight could be part of a larger initiative relating to that effort.
A SpaceX official said on Monday that the company is manufacturing close to 8 Starlink satellites per day at its manufacturing facility in Redmond, Wash.
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.
SEATTLE, Sept. 14, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leader in global launch services, today announced a breakthrough cislunar rideshare mission: “GEO Pathfinder.” As a secondary payload on board Intuitive Machines’ IM-2 South Pole Mission, Spaceflight will execute rideshare deployments in trans-lunar orbit, low-lunar orbit and beyond to geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO). Spaceflight will utilize a lunar flyby with its new propulsive transfer vehicle, Sherpa EScape (Sherpa-ES), to deliver a payload from GeoJump, a new company dedicated to providing smallsat rideshare opportunities to GEO, that will also contain an Orbit Fab in-space fueling payload. The mission is slated to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 no earlier than Q4 2022.
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.
HOUSTON (Intuitive Machines PR) — Intuitive Machines has partnered with global launch services provider Spaceflight Inc. to provide secondary rideshare services on its upcoming IM-2 South Pole Mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than December 2022.
Utilizing the excess capacity on Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander, Spaceflight Inc. will offer rideshare opportunities onboard its next-gen Sherpa Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) for deployment into trans-lunar and low-lunar orbits and beyond to geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO).
IM-2 South Pole Mission includes a Nova-C class lander to land 130 kg of payloads on the lunar surface. It also has excess capacity on the launch vehicle that delivers 1000 kg of payloads on an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) ring into a direct throw high energy orbit. This high-energy ESPA “rideshare” option allows customers to proceed to lunar capture quickly, redirect to points elsewhere in high Earth orbit, or depart for destinations in the solar system with less demand on their propulsion.
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.