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Lunar Rover-as-a-Service, New Glenn to Transport NASA’s Smallsats to Mars, and First Hybrid Rocket Reaches Space

Hello, space people. This week, read more about the lunar Rover-as-a-Service, Blue Origin’s New Glenn to transport NASA’s smallsats to Mars in 2024, and the first hybrid rocket that reaches space from Turkey. Stay in the know about the small satellite industry. Stay informed on the latest commercial payloads and launch news!

Precious Weekly: November 20 — 26, 2023

Lunar Rover-as-a-Service

Image: a mockup of the Astrolab’s lunar rover

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Launch Updates

🇨🇳 LandSpace gears up for ZhuQue-2’s third launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on December 5. Meanwhile, LandSpace introduces ZhuQue-3, featuring stainless steel tanks and a cluster of Tianque methane engines, targeting 20 metric tons to LEO. [NASA Spaceflight]

🇺🇸 NASA Mars smallsat mission EscaPADE to be on the first 🇺🇸 Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch scheduled for August 2024. Two 90-kg satellites, The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers, are a dual-spacecraft mission to study ion and sputtered escape from Mars. [SpaceNews] [NASA]

🇨🇦 MDA’s next-generation EO constellation CHORUS is targeted to launch on 🇺🇸 SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in the Q4 2025 launch window from Florida. [MDA]

Turkey’s 🇹🇷 DeltaV Space Technologies achieves a milestone with the launch of its Sonde Rocket System (SORS) to 100 km. It became the world’s first hybrid rocket using paraffin and liquid oxygen to enter space. [RaillyNews]


  • ESA completes full-duration Ariane 6 hot fire test. [ESA]
  • 🇩🇪 DLR successfully tests the Red Kite solid rocket motor, developed in collaboration with Bayern-Chemie. The one-tonne class motor can carry payloads of 200-600 kg to altitudes of 350 km. Operational flight expected in February 2024. [European Spaceflight]



🇮🇪 Ireland’s first satellite EIRSAT-1 (the Educational Irish Research Satellite 1) will be launched aboard Falcon 9 this week, as a part of ESA Academy’s Fly Your Satellite! Program. [ESA

🇩🇪 Marble Imaging and 🇵🇱 Scanway Space plan to construct and deploy a high-resolution (VHR) multispectral constellation, consisting of up to 200 100-kg satellites, within the next 10 years. The targeted resolution is 0.7 meters. [Marble Imaging]

🇦🇷 Argentine satellite manufacturer and operator Satellogic has obtained a remote sensing license from NOAA, allowing operations in the US. [Satellogic]

🇺🇸 World View, the stratospheric balloon EO and space tourism company, cancels SPAC merger plans with a special purpose acquisition company Leo Holdings Corp. II. [World View]


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Smallsat launch provider 🇺🇸 Vector Space Biosciences, with Oracle and NVIDIA, unveils a cubesat platform for biotech and pharma. [Vector Space]

🇪🇸 Researchers from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Telecommunications Technological Centre of Catalonia propose using cubesats deployed by hot air balloon, connecting pilot and base stations via long-range radio for emergency broadband in hard-to-reach areas. [Space Daily]

🇺🇸Astrolab, formally known as Venturi Astrolab Inc., announces eight customers for its FLEX lunar rover on an upcoming SpaceX lunar mission in 2026, valued at over $160M. Disclosed customers include: 

  • 🇺🇸 Argo Space Corp, with a tech demo to extract low concentrations of water from lunar regolith,
  • 🇺🇸 Astroport Space Technologies, with a test to sort lunar regolith for optimal lunar brick production,
  • 🇺🇸 Avalon Space, with a series of “science, exploration, and sustainable development” experiments,
  • 🇫🇷 Interstellar Lab, with two small pods carrying plants for lunar surface growth experiments,
  • 🇺🇸 and LifeShip, with a capsule with a DNA seed bank and data archive, contributing to lunar surface seed bank. [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸 Ursa Major, known for liquid rocket engines,  adopts 3D printing to venture into solid propulsion systems manufacturing. The company successfully tested a six-inch pathfinder and secured an undisclosed U.S. government customer. [Ursa Major]

🇨🇦 MDA will double its UK workforce and operational footprint over the next 12 months. [SatelliteEvolution]

🇬🇧 Skyrora partners with 🇬🇧 Spirit AeroSystems for an end-to-end launch service, expecting to conduct up to 16 launches per year once operating at scale. Spirit will support rocket manufacturing and transition to full-scale production. [Skyrora]


Funding, Grants, and Contracts 

The Atlantic Constellation is gaining muscles and strength. 🇬🇧 The UK joins the project, investing over £3M for a pathfinder mission. 🇬🇧 Open Cosmos will also contribute. The funds will build a satellite, part of the first set of four in the constellation, aligning with three from Portugal.  Earlier, 🇪🇸 Spain and 🇵🇹Portugal pledged €40M each. [European Spaceflight]

🇨🇦 MDA receives $131M from an undisclosed customer to begin engineering a non-geostationary constellation of 36 satellites. The deal may expand to four times more if MDA becomes the prime contractor next year. The company is expanding production facilities in Montreal to meet growing demand. [SpaceNews]

🇬🇧 The UK Space Agency unveiled funding for 23 space tech projects, spanning propulsion systems development, Orbit Fab’s refueling initiative, MDA’s project, and various new instruments R&Ds. [Gov.uk]

🇩🇪 German Space Agency (DLR) announces winners of space tech competitions. The leaders of the Microlauncher Payload Competition: 

  • Isar Aerospace, 
  • Rocket Factory Augsburg, 
  • HyImpulse. 

Small Satellite Competition winners will get a free ride on a microlauncher in 2025. 

  • OroraTech, 
  • Talos, 
  • Planetary Transportation Systems, 
  • Rapid Cubes, 
  • Vyoma. 

The winners of the Small Satellite Payload Competition will have the opportunity to receive a commercially available small satellite platform and a free ride for their payload: 

  • Berlin Space Consortium, 
  • Marble Imaging, 
  • Airbus Defence and Space, 
  • InSpacePropulsion Technologies, 
  • High-Performance Space Structure Systems, 
  • Industrieanlagen-Betriebsgesellschaft mbH (iABG), 
  • and Quantum Galactics. [DLR.de]



🇨🇳 Honor, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, confirms satellite communication support for its upcoming Magic 6 series. The feature, a first in Europe, follows Huawei’s lead in satellite capabilities. Details on the extent of satcomms support remain undisclosed. [Gearrice]


Discover our smallsat updates from last week – read now!


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