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Miura-1’s Suborbital Success, Vega’s Rideshare Lift-off, and Dish’s Historic Space Debris Penalty

Welcome to the latest edition of our smallsat news digest. From Miura-1’s suborbital triumph and Vega’s impressive rideshare launch to the unprecedented penalty faced by Dish in the realm of space debris, we’ve got the insights you need. Stay ahead of the curve with our in-depth analysis and updates on these pivotal moments. Dive in now!

Precious Weekly: October 2 — 8, 2023

Miura-1 suborbital flight

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Launch Updates

🇪🇸 PLD Space successfully launched its Miura 1 suborbital rocket on October 6. Taking off from El Arenosillo Experimentation Centre in Spain, the rocket reached 46 km, short of the planned 80 km. While the launch carried a payload for Germany’s ZARM, its primary purpose was to demonstrate technology for the upcoming Miura 5 small launch vehicle. PLD Space aims to validate 70% of Miura 5’s design with Miura 1’s insights. [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket flew the Protoflight mission for Amazon’s Project Kuiper on October 6. Amazon purchased nine Atlas V launches for its internet constellation along with 38 flights aboard the forthcoming Vulcan rocket. [SatNews]

  • 🇫🇷 Arianespace launched Europe’s final rideshare mission of 2023 on a Vega rocket on October 9 with these payloads:
  • 🇹🇭 The Airbus-built 450 kg THEOS-2 (Thailand Earth Observation System-2) satellite(primary payload).
  • 🇹🇼 FORMOSAT-7R/TRITON by TASA (Taiwan) 280 kg weather satellite (primary payload).
  • 🇪🇸 3U cubesats ANSER-Leader, ANSER-Follower 1, and ANSER-Follower 2 by INTA (Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial) for monitoring water quality in reservoirs and swamps.
  • 🇪🇺 ESA’s PROBA V-CC for experimental vegetation observations.
  • 🇳🇱 6u cubesats CSC-1 and CSC-2 satellites by ISISPACE with 🇫🇷ThrustMe propulsion systems. CSC-1 enables operations of four payloads: miniature star tracker for attitude determination provided by  🇪🇸Solar MEMS Technologies; high-accuracy Cubesat Attitude Determination and Control System, arc second accurate cubesat star tracker, and radiation effects during In Orbit Flight eXperiment provided by 🇧🇪KU Leuven University. CSC-2 is also a similar 6U multi-payload IOD cubesat with three payloads: Spacepix Radiation Monitor provided by esc 🇨🇿 Aerospace s.r.o.; in-orbit low-frequency noise characterization towards the magnetic measurement system for LISA Arc second accurate cubesat star tracker provided by 🇪🇸Universidad de Cádiz; 🇫🇷Plasma Jet Pack provided by COMAT.
  • 🇱🇺 Kongsberg NanoAvionics-built MACSAT satellite for 🇱🇺 OQ Technology’s 5G constellation.
  • 🇪🇪 ESTcube-2 to test a plasma brake for satellite disposal.
  • 🇫🇷 CNES-commissioned NESS satellite by 🇫🇷 U-Space to monitor civilian radiofrequency spectrum.
  • 🇪🇺 ESA’s PRETTY satellite for measuring ice and sea heights and ocean currents. [Video of the launch]

🇪🇺ESA has announced that the Vega-C rocket will remain grounded for over a year due to a recent engine test setback, pushing its potential next launch to Q4 2024 or later. [ESA]

🇨🇦Maritime Launch Services announces its suborbital launch program, DART (Dedicated Altitude Research and Testing) is set to begin in Q2 2024 from Spaceport Nova Scotia. 🚀 The best part? You can now book a slot for your 1U cubesat for a suborbital flight via this program directly through Precious Payload’s Launch.ctrl software platform. [MLS]



  • 🇺🇸Intuitive Machines confirmed its first mission lunar lander, Nova-C, is ready and will be shipped in the coming days ahead of its upcoming launch aboard Falcon 9 in November. The mission is to deliver NASA and commercial payloads to the Moon’s south pole. [Intuitive Machines]
  • 🇺🇸 Rocket Lab completed cryogenic testing for the Neutron’s 2nd stage. [RocketLab]
  • 🇺🇸Firefly Aerospace completed the development and assembly of its Blue Ghost lander structure and fluid systems, a critical milestone for Firefly’s first lunar mission slated to land on the Moon in 2024 as part of 🇺🇸NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. [Firefly]




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🇬🇧 Frontier Space Technologies, developing an on-orbit autonomous lab, the size of a 3U cubesat, aiming to reduce the need for astronaut labor for experiments on the ISS, to launch its first on-orbit demonstrations in the fourth quarter of 2024. [TechCrunch]

🇳🇿Zenno Astronautics partners with 🇮🇹D-Orbit to create practical solutions for the first fuel-free desaturation of reaction wheels in high-altitude orbits, and radiation shielding of hardware using superconducting electromagnets. [Zenno]

🇺🇸 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) settles with Dish Network for $150,000, marking its first penalty related to space debris. This decision creates a precedent, emphasizing the importance of space debris management in satellite operations. [CNBC]

🇺🇸 Rocket Lab opens an engine development center in Long Beach, California, at the site of Virgin Orbit’s former headquarters. The facility will produce Rutherford engines for the Electron rocket and Archimedes engines for the larger Neutron. [Rocket Lab] [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸Northrop Grumman ends its commercial space station initiative and forms a partnership with 🇺🇸Voyager, focusing on developing the Starlab project. In 2021, Northrop Grumman received $125.6M from NASA to transform its Cygnus spacecraft into a potential ISS replacement. NASA has paid $36.6M so far and intends to reallocate the remaining funds to other partners’ milestones. [Via Satellite]

🇪🇺Euroconsult reports that lunar ambitions are driving an increase in exploration funding, emphasizing the growing interest in moon missions. [SatNews]  

🇺🇸Arrow Science and Technology, to offer launch slots on proven launch and orbital transfer vehicles via Launch.ctrl marketplace by 🇺🇸/🇦🇪/🇩🇪Precious Payload. Arrow is the satellite integrator, renowned for its extensive space mission heritage, offers highly demanded, rare launch slots on established rockets—both U.S. and international—that have proven flight records, such as Falcon 9, PSLV, Electron, Firefly Alpha, and more. [Space Impulse]

🇨🇳 China is planning an extensive lunar satellite constellation to enhance communication, navigation, and remote sensing capabilities for deep space missions. [SpaceNews] Also, plans to send new modules and co-orbiting spacecraft to enhance its Tiangong space station, further expanding its capabilities in space. [SpaceNews] 

🇺🇸 Rocket Lab acquires manufacturing complex and New-Zealand-based team of 🇳🇿SailGP Technologies, a New Zealand-based competitive sailing venture known for its expertise in composite materials and parts. [RocketLab] 

🇹🇷 Turkey is planning its own low-Earth orbit satellite communications system and is in talks with Elon Musk’s Starlink. Tesla Turkey’s CEO, Kemal Geçer, is set to lead Starlink Turkey, highlighting Musk’s growing interest in the region. [TurkiyeNewspaper]

🇦🇺 QuantX Labs, in collaboration with 🇬🇧 SSTL and 🇫🇷 Airbus Australia, will launch the KAIROS mission featuring a quantum optical atomic clock from the University of Adelaide. This innovative clock, backed by SmartSat CRC, aims to transform space-based PNT capabilities. Its space-readiness will be enhanced by SSTL’s expertise and the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Demonstrator Program. [SSTL]


Funding, Grants, and Contracts 

🇺🇸 Stoke Space announces a $100M Series B funding round led by Industrious Ventures. Stoke will use the funding to develop its first stage rocket engine and structure, the orbital version of its reusable second stage, and new construction at the historic Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral. [Stoke Space]

🇺🇸 Sierra Space, building Dream Chaser spaceplane, has secured $290M in Series B funding from a Japanese consortium (MUFG Bank, Kanematsu, and Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance), valuing the company at $5B. The capital will aid in the development of its spaceplane. [Sierra Space]

🇺🇸Starpath Robotics, secures $2.5M in a pre-seed funding round led by Hummingbird Ventures and Valhalla Ventures to kickstart its ambitious project: mining lunar water, extracting liquid oxygen, and supplying it to major players like Blue Origin and SpaceX for their lunar operations. [TechCrunch]

🇺🇸 NASA chooses seven firms for a five-year contract, with a potential six-month extension, to provide commercial data for Earth science research. The total potential value is $476M. Selected companies include:

  • 🇺🇸 Airbus DS Geo (Herndon, VA)
  • 🇺🇸 Capella Space Corp. (San Francisco)
  • 🇨🇦 GHGSat, Inc. (Montreal)
  • 🇺🇸 Maxar Intelligence (Westminster, CO)
  • 🇺🇸 Space Sciences and Engineering (PlanetiQ) (Golden, CO)
  • 🇺🇸 Spire Global Subsidiary (Vienna, VA)
  • 🇺🇸 Umbra Lab (Santa Barbara, CA). [NASA]

🇺🇸 Momentus secures $4M in a direct offering, purchased entirely by a single institutional investor. [Momentus]

🇯🇵 Pale Blue, a Japanese water propulsion startup, raises $7.5M in its Series B funding and gains support from Japan’s NEDO for its program for demonstration development for mass production. This boost will aid in setting up a new production facility and refining propulsion system designs for mass production. [Pale Blue]

🇯🇵 Japanese government awards Astroscale an $80M grant for a mission to inspect a large, inactive satellite in orbit. [Astroscale]



🇦🇪UAE’s MBRSC, in collaboration with UNOOSA, announces the development of the second modular satellite, PHI-2 satellite. This initiative, part of the “Access to Space for All” program offers opportunities to send innovations into space. [Gulf News]

🇬🇧 The UK Space Agency unveils a £65M funding initiative for pioneering space technologies and applications.The first tranche of up to £34M funding is open to proposals. [GOV.UK]

🇺🇸 NASA’s JSC has released an RFI for the Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program (CLDP), seeking industry insights on end-to-end commercial services for LEO destinations. Responses are due by November 17. [Sam.gov]


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