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Firefly Buys Spaceflight, China Launches Stackable Satellite, DiCaprio Backs Lidar Constellation [+18 more updates]

Greetings from Precious Weekly, your trusted guide in the smallsat universe! In this week’s edition, we’re covering some major developments: Firefly’s strategic acquisition of Spaceflight, China’s innovative launch of a stackable satellite, and Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio’s venture into the space industry with an investment in a lidar constellation. And there’s more — we’ve got 18 additional updates ready for you. So, let’s get started and explore the latest happenings in the smallsat sector!

Precious Weekly: June 5 — 11, 2023



🇺🇸 Firefly Aerospace acquires smallsat launch broker Spaceflight Inc., including its Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles, to offer end-to-end space transportation services. After finalizing all current Spaceflight missions, services will be available only in sync with Firefly launches. SpaceNews


Launch Updates

🇺🇸SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched the Transporter-8 mission to LEO, carrying 72 spacecraft, on June 12. NSF

Image: NSF team has tagged payloads in the photo of the Transporter-8 stack


🇨🇳 CAS Space successfully launched the Longjiang-3, China’s first stackable satellite, aboard a solid-fuel Kuaizhou-1A rocket. China plans a 13,000-satellite mega-constellation, “Guowang,” to rival Starlink. SpaceNews

🇨🇳 China’s Lijian-1 rocket, known as Kinetica-1, successfully launched 26 small satellites — commercial tech demos and remote sensing payloads on June 7, 2023. SmallSat News

🇷🇺42 smallsat projects, including international commercial customers, have arrived at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome for integration. They are set to launch with the Meteor-M № 2-3 satellite aboard the Soyuz-2.1b rocket on June 27, 2023. Roscosmos



  • 🇺🇸Sidus Space, planning to launch its first LizzieSat satellite aboard a Transporter mission scheduled later this year, has contracted with SpaceX to launch four additional flights in 2024 and 2025. SmallsatNews
  • 🇱🇺LuxSpace’s Triton-X Genesis platform, accommodating up to 90 kg payloads, is set for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in October 2023. SatNews
  • 🇺🇸Quantum Space, backed by a $15M Series A round, is fast-tracking its Ranger transfer vehicle for GEO and cislunar missions, with the first launch planned for early 2025. The company is to launch its first Scout spacecraft, QS-1, with a space situational awareness payload, in late 2024. SpaceNews
  • 🇬🇧The Satellite Applications Catapult and 🇬🇧Open Cosmos will build and launch a demo satellite for the OpenConstellation as early as Q1 2024. The satellite will host a miniaturized EO payload for monitoring Atlantic coastal and maritime areas. SmallSat News
  • 🇦🇺Neumann Space signed a contract with Space Inventor to launch a 6U cubesat equipped with Neumann Drive, a unique propulsion system, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 in Q4 2023. SatNews
  • 🇺🇸 Climate tech firm Hydrosat acquires Netherlands-based IrriWatch, integrating satellite data and irrigation management to boost crop yields and conserve water amid climate change. Yahoo!
  • 🇺🇸 Ursa Major makes rocket engines, and Orbit Fab, which creates in-orbit refueling infrastructure, lays off employees due to tight funding, affecting 80 and 10 staff, respectively. CNBC
  • 🇳🇿 New Zealand releases a National Space Policy. SpaceRef



🇺🇸ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket successfully completed a flight readiness test for Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander mission, set for June 2023. SatNews

🇺🇸KSF Space reveals plans for suborbital testing of its reusable Jupiter Rocket, aiming to carry payloads to suborbital altitudes. Engine fire test scheduled for July 2023. SmallSat News

🇺🇸Stoke Space’s reusable rocket engine, powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen, meets flight requirements. “The heat shield is actively cooled and fully integrated into the engine.” Twitter

Image: Stoke Space’s engine test


Funding and Contracts 

  1. 🇺🇸Nuview, a lidar startup, secures $15M funding, including a $3M seed round and $12M from an ongoing Series A. Leonardo DiCaprio is among the new investors. TechCrunch
  2. 🇺🇸The Spaceport Company, a mobile sea platform provider, won a $1.5M contract from the Defense Innovation Unit to support responsive launch goals. Payload
  3. 🇺🇸ExLabs, developing spacecraft for orbital debris clean-up, secures a $1.7M SBIR contract from SpaceWERX. SpaceRef



  • 🇪🇺🇸🇪 REXUS/BEXUS program invites university students to submit experiment proposals for rocket and balloon missions. Deadline: October 18, 2023. LinkedIn
  • 🚀Showcase your space logistics solutions at IAC 2023 in Baku! Join Precious Payload’s Access to Space workshops at the UAE Space Agency booth. Limited spots. Email mk@preciouspayload.com to participate!


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