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Precious Payload Weekly Smallsat News: August 15 — 21


Here’s what you need to know about the brightest smallsat headlines and more insights from Precious Payload.




In June 2022, 6.9% of Precious Payload Launch Calculator queries were for suborbital and geosynchronous launches. We are currently working on a general update of our Launch Calculator, adding new destinations and ROM prices. In the meantime, payload developers are invited to call us to quickly get predefined pricing for their missions. [Schedule a call]


Launch Updates

🇯🇵Sky Perfect JSAT selects 🇺🇸SpaceX’s Starship rocket to launch its Superbird-9 communications satellite to GTO in 2024. [Space.com]


🇺🇸NASA’s SLS rocket will carry a 🇯🇵6U lunar lander OMOTENASHI on Sunday, August 29. 14 kg lander by 🇯🇵JAXA and the University of Tokyo will be the only one of the Artemis 1 mission‘s ten secondary payloads (< the list) to conduct a controlled landing on the moon. [Space.com


One more 6U aboard the SLS Artemis 1 launch is LunIR by 🇺🇸Terran Orbital that will fly by the Moon and collect surface thermography. [Parabolic Arc


🇺🇸FireFly Alpha Flight 2 ‘ToTheBlack’ launch is scheduled for September 11. [Twitter]


🇨🇳China’s new solid rocket Smart Dragon 3, also known as Jielong 3, last week successfully passed payload fairing separation tests and has now entered the flight test phase for its first mission. It will be capable of sending 1,500 kg of cargo to a 500 km SSO. [Space.com]


🇺🇸Rocket Lab’s “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” mission is scheduled to lift-off from Pad B at 🇳🇿Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand during a launch window that opens in mid-September. Electron will carry a 150kg 🇯🇵Synspective’s StriX-1 SAR satellite to LEO. The Japanese company is going to launch a synthetic aperture radar constellation of 25 satellites to deliver imagery that can detect millimeter-level changes to the Earth’s surface independent of weather conditions at any time of the day or night. [SatNews]


🇺🇸Momentus announces a service agreement with 🇱🇺LuxSpace, a Luxembourg-based subsidiary of German-headquartered satellite manufacturer OHB, to launch a tech demo of the Triton-X small satellite platform aboard Vigoride in 2023. [Press Release]


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In the next 10 years, heavy launchers to garner the most demand, advertise the lowest cost per kg to LEO; OTVs will further lower prices for customers to reach their desired orbits, and cement heavy-lift vehicles as the main providers of space launch. But… ‘The market currently anticipates 5 heavy-lift launch vehicles by 2030 while our projections yield a maximum of 4 vehicles existing sustainably. Among these existing or in-development vehicles are SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Heavy, and Starship, as well as Blue Origin’s New Glenn and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur,’ predict 🇺🇸SpaceWorks analytics. Read more about medium-lift and small launchers in the new article. [Survival of the Fittest]


🇲🇩Moldova deployed its first satellite, TUMnanoSAT (developed by the Technical University of Moldova), from the ISS under the KiboCUBE program to demonstrate different cubesat subsystems and modules. [SpaceWatch.Global]


(Non-smallsat news, but huge) Supply chain issues have delayed the launch of the first operational 10-m and 1.5-ton BlueBird satellite in 🇺🇸AST SpaceMobile’s cellphone-compatible broadband constellation by about six months to late 2023. Moreover, the first five satellites of the Texas-based company slated to launch aboard 🇺🇸SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will be 50% smaller than initially planned to avoid further delaying commercial services. [SpaceNews]


🇺🇸California has allocated $100 million in revenue from its cap-and-trade program to invest in expanding the number of satellites launched for methane observations. [SatNews]


🇺🇸Aerojet Rocketdyne has opened a new 51,000 square foot facility in Arkansas for $13.5M to integrate solid rocket motor manufacturing activities, improving operational efficiency, increasing production capacity, reducing costs, and providing for even safer operations. [SatNews]



Check out Precious Payload Weekly Smallsat News: August 8 — 14