Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

D-Orbit Signs Contract for Launch and Deployment Services with Planet Labs

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
February 27, 2019
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FINO MORNASCO, Italy, February 27th, 2019 (D-Orbit PR) — D-Orbit, an Italian service provider for the New Space sector, signed a contract with Planet, a US-based private Earth imaging company, for the launch and deployment of six Dove-series satellites. Under the contract, D-Orbit will launch and deploy the satellites during the first commercial mission of ION CubeSat Carrier, the core technology of the InOrbit NOW launch service offered by the Italian company. The mission will launch in August 2019, on the Vega launch vehicle as part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) Proof of Concept flight (POC flight).

“We are honored to partner with Planet, the leading Smallsat operator in the industry,” said Renato Panesi, D-Orbit Chief Commercial Officer. “We are proud Planet has chosen our ION CubeSat Carrier for their next mission. Our launch services are ideal for the small satellite market because they provide high performance by accelerating the phasing of released satellites at an affordable cost. We believe this contract is the start of a long-term cooperation.”

Mike Safyan, Planet’s VP of Launch, describes the opportunity as “an important step in Planet’s continued diversification of its launch manifest.” Safyan continued, “Utilizing advanced deployment platforms such as D-Orbit’s ION will help open up new launch opportunities to allow us better control of how we conduct initial phasing of our satellites.”

With more than 300 satellites launched as of today, the Flock constellation of Dove-series satellites constitutes the Earth’s largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites ever put into orbit. The Flock constellation provides a snapshot of the Earth’s landmass every twenty four hours at 3 – 5 meters optical resolution.

The ION CubeSat Carrier, a satellite platform developed and operated by D-Orbit, is a free-flyer dispenser able to host a combination of CubeSats ranging in size from 1U to 12U+ (and soon 16U as well) for a combined volume of 48U. Once in orbit, the CubeSat carrier deploys each individual spacecraft in an individual orbital slot, with orientation and impulse specified by the client. This feature enables a faster dispersion of a batch of satellite within an orbital plane, reducing the phasing time of up to 80%.

Planet will test the ION’s accelerated phasing capabilities on this upcoming mission, reducing the need to perform as many differential drag maneuvers to get the individual satellites into their orbital slots.


D-Orbit is a service provider for the traditional and new space sectors, with capabilities in satellite manufacturing, launch, deployment, satellite operations, end-of-life strategies and solutions, space propulsion and related critical software. Its products and services cover the entire lifecycle of a space mission, including mission analysis and design, engineering, manufacturing, integration, testing, launch, and end-of-life decommissioning.

Founded in 2011, the company is based in Como, Italy, in Washington DC, United States, and Lisbon, and Portugal.