In thrust, we trust: Plasmos, ION-X, Busek, and more awesome smallsat projects taking off
Precious Payload’s Weekly Smallsat News ❤️
February 6–12, 2023
Everything you need to know about recent smallsat headlines around the universe.
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🇺🇸SpaceX’s Starship successfully completed its static fire test of Booster 7, with 31 Raptor engines. Elon Musk tweeted about the next launch attempt in March, adding, “Success is far from certain, but excitement is guaranteed.” [SpaceWatchGlobal]
Read our article for a hot take on the company: SpaceX: Market maker or market killer?
🇺🇸Starfish Space to launch their low-thrust electric-propelled Otter Pup satellite in June 2023, via the Transporter 8 mission aboard 🇺🇸Launcher’s Orbiter OTV. This mission aims to look at space debris disposal, satellite life extension, and, eventually, in-space logistics, on-orbit assembly, and more. [SmallsatNews] [LaunchSchedule]
🇪🇸FOSSA Systems selects 🇺🇸Momentus to deliver its first set of FOSSASat FEROX satellites into LEO, aboard Vigoride on the Transporter 8 mission planned for June 2023. [SmallasatNews] [LaunchSchedule] Also, 🇦🇺Waratah Seed contracts 🇺🇸Momentus to launch its first 6U cubesat for its Waratah Seed-1 (WS-1) mission in late 2023. [LinkedIn]
🇧🇷Visiona is readying its VCUB1 satellite for a launch aboard a 🇺🇸SpaceX Falcon 9 in Q2 2023. The company will validate its satellite orbit and attitude control system, in addition to testing onboard data-management technology, and radio software. [LinkedIn]
🇺🇸Firefly Aerospace prepares for its first 🇺🇸US Space Force launch of a 🇺🇸Millennium Space payload to LEO, to demonstrate the industry’s capability to send a payload into orbit on 24 hours’ notice. The mission is funded by Space Force’s Tactically Responsive Space program. [SpaceNews]
🇰🇷South Korea selects 🇫🇷Arianespace’s Vega C rocket to launch their multipurpose imaging satellite, KOMPSAT-6. Its 2022 launch from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia was delayed, due to sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine. No new launch date has been set. [SpaceNews]
🇰🇷SNIPE, a constellation consisting of four 6U CubeSats—built to identify the temporal and spatial variation of small-scale plasma structures in the ionosphere and magnetosphere—will launch on South Korea’s KSLV-2 rocket in May, after also being delayed by Russian sanctions. [SpaceNews]
🇰🇷South Korea to host international bidding in March to provide launch services for the remote-sensing satellite CAS500-2, to be launched in H1 2024. [SpaceNews]
🇺🇸Plasmos to perform a demo flight of its 3D-printed Space Truck to LEO in January 2024. The spacecraft will offer in-space transportation along with on-orbit servicing and active debris removal, and will return the payloads to Earth. [SpaceNews]
In January, 🇨🇳China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) performed a rideshare launch with 14 payloads from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center to SSO, aboard a Chang Zheng 2D rocket. Among the payloads on board were:
- Luojia-3 01: A remote-sensing satellite (built by DFH Satellite) to be operated by Wuhan University. The technology will enable customers to stream photos taken from orbit to a mobile device within ten minutes of capture.
- Tianzhi-2D: A demo showcasing remote-sensing technology for emergency monitoring, intelligent city management, and agriculture control.
- Two high-resolution optical Earth-observation Qilu satellites, designed for collecting data relating to Shandong Province with a resolution of 0.7 meters, equipped with thermal infrared-imaging capabilities.
- Jinzijing 3, 4, and 6: Remote-sensing satellites for observing ground targets.
- Multiple Jilin-1 satellites for Chang Guang Satellite Technology Corporation, to support its commercial remote-sensing satellite system. Other Jilin satellites included the Jilin-1 Gaofen 03D-34 remote-sensing satellite, the Jilin-1 Mofang 02A-03, 02A-04, and 02A-07, and the infrared-imaging Jilin-1 Hongwai 02A-07 and 02A-08 spacecrafts. [NASASpaceflight]
🇫🇷ION-X will validate their electrospray thruster via 🇧🇬Endurosat’s Space-as-a-Service platform, with a planned launch in H1 2024 aboard Falcon 9. [Endurosat]
Vulcan Centaur from 🇺🇸ULA has been assembled at 🇺🇸Cape Canaveral ahead of its debut launch mission, Certification Flight-1, set for Q1 2023. The rocket will carry 🇺🇸Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, and 🇺🇸Amazon’s two Project Kuiper satellites. [Space.com]
There’s a new rocket in the game! 🇮🇳ISRO‘s SSLV-D2 rocket successfully launched three satellites—with launch provider NSIL—into LEO from the 🇮🇳Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The payloads were ISRO’s Earth-observation satellite, EOS-07, the Janus-1 6U cubesat by 🇺🇸Antaris, and the 8U cubesat AzaadiSAT-2, developed by Indian youth. [SpaceWatchGlobal]
🇺🇸Relativity Space tests its 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket ahead of its debut mission, ‘Good Luck, Have Fun,’ which is rumored to launch with no payload onboard this month from 🇺🇸Cape Canaveral, provided the tests go to plan. Relativity has not yet disclosed an official launch date. [Space.com]
🇺🇸Astro Digital partners with 🇺🇸EchoStar for the construction of an IoT smallsat constellation, with delivery starting in 2024. [SmallsatNews]
🇺🇸Busek’s BHT-350 Hall effect thrusters have been successfully employed on 80 🇬🇧OneWeb satellites. The payloads were launched on December 8, 2022 and January 9, 2023, respectively, on 🇺🇸SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. [ViaSatellite]
🇴🇲Oman published a Space Policy and Executive Program document, giving insight into the direction of its national space goals. [LinkedIn]
🇺🇸Rocket Lab introduced new software-defined radio and reaction wheels for smallsats among its lineup of products using the new Frontier-X radio. [ViaSatellite]
Intuitive Machines is going public imminently through its merger with Inflection Point Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: IPAX). Post-merger: Intuitive Machines (Nasdaq: LUNR) [LinkedIn]
🇺🇸World View plans to focus on remote-sensing activities rather than tourism. Its balloon platform, “Stratollite,” aims to provide high-resolution imagery for extended periods. [SpaceNews]
🇺🇸Intuitive Machines is moving the landing site for its first lunar lander mission to the south polar region of the Moon, a decision that will generate more revenue for the company but could delay the lander’s launch for 🇺🇸NASA. The launch, set to carry five payloads for the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, is scheduled for late June 2023. [SpaceNews]
Tom Choi, CEO of 🇺🇸Saturn Satellite Networks, expresses how the space industry faces a dearth of launch capabilities, despite payload capacity growth. [SpaceNews]
🇫🇷Exotrail raises $58M in funding to scale up production of its electric propulsion systems and mission-design software. [SpaceNews]
🇮🇳ICICI Bank, 🇮🇳Kotak Mahindra Bank, and 🇮🇳HDFC Limited invested in 🇮🇳SatSure, bringing the company’s total funds to $14.5M (INR 1.2B). SatSure plans to develop a four-satellite constellation by 2024, driven by AI-on-the-Edge technology. [SatSure]
🇬🇧Satellite Vu secures $97.8M for its Early Access Program (EAP), which will be launching its first thermal-monitoring satellite in June 2023 aboard Falcon 9. [ViaSatellite]
The 🇮🇱Earth & Beyond Ventures fund secures $125M to invest in space technologies like semiconductors, robotics, new materials, and sensors. [Reuters]