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Biz Briefs – SpaceX Starship Launch on Hold, India’s EO Company SatSure Closes Series A

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 8, 2023
Filed under , , ,
Biz Briefs – SpaceX Starship Launch on Hold, India’s EO Company SatSure Closes Series A
Starship/Super Heavy on the launch pad in September 2023.
Image credit: SpaceX.

Welcome to Biz Briefs! In this edition, the FAA told SpaceX there’s more work to do before Starship can be launched again, ICEYE and Viasat won contracts, an Indian Earth observation company raised $15 million, Redwire 3D-printed human knee meniscus in orbit, and much more.

Starship being lifted for installation on the Super Heavy booster in September 2023. Image credit: SpaceX.
Starship being lifted for installation on the Super Heavy booster in September 2023. Image credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX’s Next Starship Launch Date Uncertainty

Starship is ready to launch, awaiting FAA license approval,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on X on September 5. The post was accompanied by video of the Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle on the pad at the Starbase spaceport in Texas.

The FAA issued a statement the following day that said it is waiting on SpaceX.

“The SpaceX Starship mishap investigation remains open. The FAA will not authorize another Starship launch until SpaceX implements the corrective actions identified during the mishap investigation and demonstrates compliance with all the regulatory requirements of the license modification process,” the agency said.

The mishap investigation was launched after the failure of Starship/Super Heavy’s maiden flight in April.

On Friday, the FAA issued a statement saying the investigation was closed but that SpaceX had 63 corrective actions to implement before it could apply for a license to launch again.

Contracts & Awards

ICEYE to provide Australia with bushfire data

The Australian federal government has selected ICEYE to provide flood and bushfire hazard data for all of the country’s states and territories. ICEYE operates a fleet of synthetic aperture radar satellites. Australia has suffered record-breaking floods and bushfires in recent years.

Korean Air selects Viasat broadband service

Korean Air selected Viasat’s inflight broadband service for its Airbus A321neo fleet. Korean Air are scheduled to receive 30 A321neo aircraft equipped with Viasat’s broadband delivery system by 2027.

Inmarsat Government wins defense contract

Inmarsat Government, which is part of Viasat, was awarded a Proliferated Low Earth Orbit (PLEO) Satellite-Based Services contract by the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) on behalf of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command. Inmarsat is one of 16 companies selected for the $900 million, 10-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. PLEO constellations are part of a Department of Defense strategy to provide additional resilience for satellite communications, remote sensing and other capabilities by diversifying orbits.

Wyvern and Loft Orbital team to expand satellite constellation

Hyperspectral imaging startup Wyvern is teaming with Loft Orbital to expand the capacity of Wyvern’s Dragonette constellation. Wyvern’s imaging systems will fly on Loft’s second-generation satellite platform, which is derived from the flight-proven OneWeb spacecraft bus. 

Advanced Space wins ASA grant

Advanced Navigation has been awarded an AUD $5.2 million (USD $3.3 million) grant by the Australian Space Agency to develop and produce its Light Detection, Altimetry, and Velocimetry (LiDAV) technology. The company will deliver a space-qualified LiDAV sensor named LUNA (Laser measurement Unit for Navigational Aid) to Houston-based Intuitive Machines for use on a future Nova-C lunar lander during the vehicle’s descent to the lunar surface.

Relativity Space signs lease on Stennis test stand

Relativity Space has signed a lease on the A-2 engine test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The agreement expands the company’s presence at the facility to nearly 300 acres. The A-2 test stand was constructed in 1966 to test the second stage of the Saturn V rocket. It has sat unused for nearly a decade.

Astrobotic begins research on lunar rocket plumes

Astrobotic has begun work on two NASA Small Business Innovation Research contracts that will advance research on plumes caused by lunar landings. The Floatinator investigation will build a hot-fire test apparatus capable of being dropped at a controlled acceleration to simulate reduced lunar gravity. Astrobotic will also develop the Plume-Surface Interaction Combined Hot-fire Imaging Camera (PSICHIC) to capture new data from hot-fire engine tests.

SAS supports MAG Aerospace on U.S. Space Force contract

SAS is supporting MAG Aerospace in seeking data analytics awards from the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command. MAG Aerospace was one of 18 companies selected in March under a $900 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity data analytics contract. The companies are competing to provide analytical services for data collected by the U.S. Space Force’s network of radars and sensors.


Indian EO startup raises $15 million

Indian Earth observation startup SatSure raised $15 million in a Series A round led by Baring Private Equity Partners, India and Promus Ventures. Omidyar Network India and xto10X participated in the round along with existing investors Force Ventures, Luckbox Ventures, and IndigoEdge Advisors. The investment means that SatSure’s plans to launch a fleet of four high-resolution optical and multispectral satellites are on track for the fourth quarter of 2025. 

Momentus announces $5 million direct offering

Momentus announced it entered into a securities purchase agreement with a single institutional investor that will result in $5 million in gross proceeds before expenses are deducted. Momentus also issued to the investor Series A warrants to purchase 672,948 shares of common stock and Series B warrants to purchase 672,948 shares at an exercise price of $7.18.

SpinLaunch, Sumitomo Form Strategic Partnership

SpinLaunch and the Sumitomo Corporation of Japan have formed a strategic partnership to expand the global market for launch services. Sumitomo has also made an investment in SpinLaunch, which is developing a mass accelerator to send payloads to space. Sumitomo will represent SpinLaunch’s launch services and related hardware products in Japan.

Venture Capital

Eutelsat Partners With Karista’s Spacetech Fund

Eutelsat has become a new subscriber to Karista’s Spacetech venture capital fund. The fund has backed French and European startups with seed/series A investments ranging between €1-5 million (USD $1.1- 5.3 million) since September 2021.

Image credit: Redwire.
Image credit: Redwire.


Redwire prints first human knee meniscus on ISS

Redwire announced it has successfully 3D bioprinted the first human knee meniscus using its 3D BioFabrication Facility aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The work was done by astronauts aboard the station in cooperation with Redwire and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center for Biotechnology.

“This milestone opens the door to improved treatments for meniscal injuries, one of the most common injuries for U.S. service members,” the company said in a press release.

A meniscus injury occurs when the cartilage that cushions the shinbone from the thighbone gets torn due to the twisting or rotation of the knee.

Gambit installed on Bishop Airlock

Voyager Space announced the successful installation of a new self-built payload, Gambit, to its Bishop Airlock on the ISS. The Bishop Airlock features six external payload sites. One of Gambit’s primary goals is to serve as a testing platform to demonstrate robotic transfer and installation processes at these external sites.

Viasat satellite suffers anomaly

Viasat confirmed that its Inmarsat-6 F2 communications satellite launched in February 2023 suffered a power subsystem anomaly during its orbit raising phase. (Inmarsat is part of Viasat). Satellite manufacturer Airbus and Viasat are working to determine the root cause of the anomaly and assess whether the satellite can deliver communications services. The company said the problem is not affecting ongoing services. The twin Inmarat-6 F1 satellite, which was launched in December 2021, continues to operate as expected. The manufacture and launch of the Inmarsat-6 F2 satellite were insured.

It was the second Viasat satellite to experience a serious anomaly over the summer. In July, the company reported that the Viasat-3 Americas communications satellite suffered an anomaly during reflector deployment that could affect the spacecraft’s ability to deliver services.

SpiderOak demonstrates OrbitSecure on ISS

SpiderOak announced the successful deployment and demonstration of its OrbitSecure cybersecurity technology aboard the space station. The system successfully demonstrated the sending and receiving of secure communications between ground and low-Earth orbit. The demonstration was done using Amazon Web Services’ Snowcone edge computing device provided by Axiom Space.

GHGSat’s greenhouse gas monitoring microsats exceed expectations

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) announced that the SFL-built GHGSat greenhouse gas monitoring microsatellites have achieved sustained detection and measurement of methane emissions at double the design capacity. SFL developed all nine operational 15-kilogram GHGSat spacecraft on its low-cost, high-performance NEMO microsatellite bus.

Orbit unveils multi-purpose SATCOM terminals

Orbit Communications Systems will unveil its compact Multi-Purpose Terminals (MPT) for SATCOM communication for unmanned surface vehicles and small sea vessels at the DSEI 2023 conference in London. The conference will be held from Sept. 12-15.

Company Announcements

Terran Orbital announces Responsive Space Initiative

Terran Orbital announced its Responsive Space Initiative under which the company committed to providing customers with satellite buses within 30 days and complete satellite systems with integrated payloads within 60 days. The initiative includes seven new satellite buses that Terran Orbital unveiled earlier this week.

ATLAS Space Creates Freedom Space Technologies

Michigan-based ATLAS Space Operations has created a wholly-owned subsidiary, Freedom Space Technologies, to provide “innovative and reliable ground-based satellite communications services” to U.S. government agencies. Freedom Space is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to provide services to the Department of Defense and national security space organizations.


SDA seeks proposals for Tranche 2 Tracking Layer constellation

The Space Development Agency (SDA) is seeking proposals from industry for its Tranche 2 Tracking Layer satellite constellation, which will detect and track missile launches. SDA will procure at least 54 satellites with infrared (IR) sensors that will be deployed in six orbital planes.  Proposals are due on October. 5.

ESA seeks space transportation ideas

The European Space Agency (ESA) is seeking disruptive launch technologies through its Future Innovation Research in Space Transportation (FIRST!) initiative.

“In consistency with the Agenda 2025, the disruptive technologies tested in FIRST! shall contribute to a growing, competitive and autonomous space transportation ecosystem in Europe. With this purpose and as a first phase in the campaign, a call for ideas on OSIP platform has just been published and will stay open until 30 September, 2023,” ESA said in a press release.

Teraphysics signs agreement with NASA

Teraphysics Corporation has signed a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Glenn Research Facility in Cleveland. NASA will assist Teraphysics in performing radio frequency (RF) characterization of its patented, micro-fabricated E-band helical traveling wave tube amplifier and to ascertain its suitability for space-to-earth RF telecommunication link.

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