Do rocket science. We’ll do the rest.

Precious Payload helps teams ship satellites to space.

ABL and Virgin Orbit launches fail, SpiderOak and Capella Space raise millions, and Djibouti to build a spaceport

Precious Payload’s Weekly Smallsat News:

January 9–15, 2023


Everything you need to know about recent smallsat headlines around the universe. 

Was this email forwarded to you? Subscribe here



Past Flights

🇺🇸Virgin Orbit’s ‘Start Me Up’ mission was unsuccessful in its launch from 🇬🇧Spaceport Cornwall on January 9, due to upper-stage failure. [VirginOrbit] Payloads on board: 

  1. 🇬🇧IOD-3 AMBER by Satellite Applications Catapult, 🇬🇧Horizon Technologies, and 🇬🇧AAC Clyde Space
  2. 🇬🇧Prometheus-2 by the Ministry of Defence, Airbus Defence, and Space and In-Space Missions Limited
  3. CIRCE by 🇬🇧Defense Science and Technology Laboratory and 🇺🇸Naval Research Laboratory
  4. DOVER by 🇬🇧RHEA Group, 🇪🇺ESA, and 🇬🇧Open Cosmos
  5. ForgeStar-0 by 🇬🇧Space Forge
  6. AMAN by the 🇴🇲Sultanate of Oman and 🇵🇱SatRev
  7. STORK-6 by 🇵🇱SatRev 


🇺🇸ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket failed to reach orbit due to an engine anomaly after launching from the 🇺🇸Pacific Spaceport Complex on January 10. [Space.com] Payloads on board were VariSat-1 and VariSat-2, part of a demonstration mission for inter-satellite linking and communication by 🇺🇸VariSat LLC. 


🇨🇳China launched its Chang Zheng 2D rocket with a commercial rideshare mission from 🇨🇳Xichang Satellite Launch Center on January 13. On board was Yaogan-37, sent to carry out in-orbit verification tests of new technologies such as space environment monitoring. Also on the rocket were Shiyan-22A and B, two Earth-observation payloads. [NASASpaceflight]


Launch Updates

🇸🇪Esrange Space Center, Europe’s first satellite orbital launch complex, officially opened in Kiruna on January 13. [Politico]


🇧🇬Endurosat’s 12U cubesat, propelled by 🇪🇸ienai SPACE, will be tested for collision avoidance using data from 🇵🇹Neuraspace. The launch is scheduled for 2023 aboard 🇩🇪Isar’s Spectrum rocket. [ViaSatellite]


🇺🇸Spaceflight signed an agreement with 🇨🇦Maritime Launch Services to launch five Sherpa OTVs aboard the Cyclone-4M rocket from 🇨🇦Spaceport Nova Scotia, starting in 2025. [SatelliteEvolution]


🇺🇸HawkEye 360’s Cluster 6 smallsats are slated for launch aboard an Electron rocket from the 🇺🇸Wallops flight facility on January 23 as part of 🇺🇸Rocket Lab’s ‘Virginia Is For Launch Lovers’ mission. [SmallsatNews]


🇩🇪Rocket Factory’s first launch of its RFA ONE launch system is planned for the end of 2023, lifting off from 🇬🇧SaxaVord Spaceport. [SpaceWatchGlobal]


🇩🇰Space Inventor offers their EDISON In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) Flight Opportunity as a part of the ESA Pioneer Programme. Planned for Q2 2024, the launch into a polar orbit aboard a 6U cubesat comes in at a ROM price of €94,000. [SatSearch]



🇩🇯Djibouti signs an MoU with 🇭🇰HKATG and 🇧🇪Touchroad International Holdings Group for the development of a commercial spaceport worth $1B in the country over the next five years. [SpaceinAfrica]


🇺🇸Marshall Space Flight Center collaborates with 🇺🇸Los Alamos National Laboratory and the 🇺🇸University of Alabama on Cubespark, a six-cubesat lightning-mapping constellation. Launch plans TBA. [SpaceNews]


🇯🇵Axelspace’s AxelGlobe constellation data to be used for 🇨🇦NorthStar’s SSA object-monitoring project. [SpaceNews]


🇺🇸SpiderOak raised $16.4M in a Series C funding round, to be used for in-orbit testing and secure flight heritage for its cyber security solutions. [SpaceWatchGlobal]


🇺🇸Capella Space gets $60M in funding from the 🇺🇸U.S. Innovative Technology Fund, which will help increase its imaging capabilities and accelerate the development of new data products. [SmallsatNews]



Check out Precious Payload’s Weekly Smallsat News: December 19, 2022–January 8, 2023