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First Commercial Mars Mission, Multiple Funding Updates, and Wooden Cubesats Return [+20 more updates]

Welcome to our latest Precious Weekly newsletter issue! We’ve got a thrilling lineup of space updates for you this time. We’re talking about the first-ever commercial Mars mission, a flurry of funding updates from across the industry, and the surprising return of wooden cubesats. But that’s not all – we have 20 more exciting updates to share. So buckle up and get ready for a journey through the cosmos as we delve into these fascinating developments. Let’s blast off!

See news tagged with a 🚀? Click the link to reveal more about the launch or its provider on Launch.ctrl by Precious Payload—your gateway to space! 💫


Precious Weekly: May 22 — 28, 2023

Commercial Mars Mission


Launch Updates

🚀Impulse and Relativity target 2026 to launch their first Mars lander mission. [SpaceNews]

🇰🇷South Korea’s Nuri rocket (KSLV-II) completed its third launch, the first time carrying commercial payloads:

  • NEXTSat 2 by 🇰🇷KAIST
  • JLC-101-v1-2 by 🇰🇷Justec
  • Lumir-T1 by 🇰🇷Lumir
  • KSAT3U by 🇰🇷Kairo Space
  • SNIPE, a constellation of four 6U cubesats, by 🇰🇷KASI (Small scale magNetospheric and Ionospheric Plasma Experiment). [SpaceNews]

The MAPHEUS-13 rocket successfully launched from 🇸🇪Esrange Space Center, conducting 🇩🇪DLR’s zero-gravity research. Experiments included 3D printing in space and studying the effects of microgravity on brain cells. [SSC]



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  1. 🇺🇸The Spaceport Company conducted several suborbital launches from a mobile floating spaceport in the Gulf of Mexico. 🇺🇸Evolution Space provided the rocket’s propulsion, and an independent contractor Rick Maschek—provided the airframes. [Space.com
  2. 🇯🇵Kyoto University will launch a wooden cubesat LignoSat in 2024 by NASA and JAXA. The spacecraft will be made of Magnolia wood. [Phys.org] Will another 1U, Wisa Woodsat by 🇫🇮Wisa Plywood, made of plywood, be launched soon? 
  3. 🇺🇸Astrobotic will develop a cargo accommodation system for 🇺🇸Blue Origin’s lander. Astrobotic also will support the development of the project’s lunar landing sensors. [Astrobotic
  4. 🇺🇸NASA and 🇺🇸Intuitive Machines move the landing site for the first Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission to Moon’s South Pole. The landing date is expected in Q3 2023. [NASA] 🚀[More info on launch]
  5. 🇺🇸Astranis has successfully deployed its first MicroGEO satellite to begin providing internet capacity over Alaska. Four more satellites will be launched later this year aboard Falcon 9. [John Gedmark]
  6. 🇺🇸Momentus will fly 🇺🇸Lunasonde’s Picacho cubesat for a sub-surface imaging demo via Vigoride-7 aboard Transporter-9. [Momentus]
  7. 🇺🇸Orbit Fab selects Impulse Space’s orbital vehicle Mira as a hosted platform for the company’s fuel depot for DoD in-space refueling demo in 2025. [SpaceNews]
  8. 🇫🇷ThrustMe exceeds 100 orders for propulsion systems. [ThrustMe]
  9. RIP. 🇺🇸Virgin Orbit closes permanently after a $36.4 million asset sale, including the sale of its Long Beach, California, headquarters to 🇺🇸Rocket Lab. [Reuters]
  10. 🇨🇦Maritime Launch Services secures a multi-mission agreement with an undisclosed “international client” to launch OTVs from Spaceport Nova Scotia, with committed launches through 2027, valued at over $1B in revenue. [MLS]



🇮🇳Bellatrix Aerospace updates on Arka-200 Hall Effect Thruster tests: 12 out of 14 successful, plans to launch more thrusters in 2023. The company launched its tech demo aboard ISRO’s PSLV POEM platform. [Twitter]

🇰🇷Nara Space completes optical and vibration testing for Observer-1 satellite, scheduled for October launch via Exolaunch aboard Falcon 9. [LinkedIn]

🇺🇸Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spacecraft reached 80 km altitude during a space test (Unity 25 mission) after a two-year flight gap. [LinkedIn]


Funding and Contracts 


  • Space robotics startup 🇯🇵GITAI raises $30M in Series B funding to enhance its lunar rover and robotic arm technology, expanding manufacturing facilities in the US. [The Journal of Space Commerce]
  • 🇦🇺Fleet Space secures $33 million for mineral exploration constellation in a Series C round led by Australasian venture capital firm and existing investor Blackbird. Fleet already operates a seven-satellite constellation and will increase the number to 140. [SpaceNews]
  • Climate tech startup 🇬🇧Satellite Vu raises an additional $15.8M in Series A2 funding led by Molten Ventures. The company will launch its first planned constellation satellite in June 2023. [Satellite Vu]
  • 🇺🇸SkyFi closes $7M seed round led by Balerion Space Ventures. The company is democratizing satellite imagery through consumer-focused apps. [TechCrunch]
  • 🇺🇸TRL11 has closed pre-seed funding of over $3M led by BoostVC to expand the team and launch two prototype video payloads to LEO. The startup aims to make full-motion video solutions commonplace in all space applications. [GlobeNewswire]


  • Spain’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) reviews 🇪🇸Pangea Aerospace and 🇪🇸PLD Space microlauncher solutions, awarding initial €1.5M funding. Baseline requirement: 500kg payloads to 800km altitude. The winner will receive an additional €42M by the end of the year. [European Spaceflight]
  • 🇺🇸Ursa Major won the 🇺🇸Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract to test a prototype of its Draper engine for hypersonics and to continue developing its Arroway engines. [Payload]



  1. 🇬🇧The UK Space Agency launches Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund, offering over £50 million in matched funding to enhance the UK’s space R&D infrastructure. Applications open until July 5, 2023. Contact scif@ukspaceagency.gov.uk for more information.
  2. 🇪🇺ESA is seeking European launch service providers of micro and mini launchers to enhance the competitiveness of the European space transportation sector. ESA will provide funding for launch system demonstration and compatibility analysis up to €300k. [ESA]
  3. 🇪🇺ESA invites private companies to participate in The Commercial Cargo Transportation Initiative, offering support for developing cargo transportation services to human outposts in LEO, including the ISS and future commercial LEO destinations.[ESA]
  4. 🇪🇺ESA invites satellite and terrestrial R&D groups to participate in the first in-orbit 6G lab, providing funding of €8 million. The lab will focus on LEO and aim to test and develop 6G technologies and techniques. The submission deadline is June 30th. [ESA]
  5. VC firm 🇺🇸Fortuna Investments aims to invest in 12 early-stage space startups over the next few years. [Payload]


Discover our updates from last week – click the link now!


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