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OneWeb goes with SpaceX, Astra launches a commercial mission, and OrbitFab gets more funding

Precious Payload Weekly Smallsat Market Update: March 14 – 20


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Launch Updates

It’s happening, space friends:

Astra is getting a normal cadence of orbital launches. Last week, a California-based rocket company successfully launched Astra 1 mission.

On the payloads list: OreSat0, which is monitoring the global distribution of high-altitude cirrus clouds; S4 Crossover by NearSpace Launch, a tech-demo of a prototype payload host platform + some science and communications instruments; and a bunch of SpaceBEEs—picosats of a Swarm Technologies’ constellation.

A $4+ bln expendable launch vehicle is slowly making it to the launch padA NASA Moon rocket SLS that will carry ten 6U cubesats of the Artemis 1 mission is having a countdown rehearsal.



Obviously, the market is trying to account for the disappearance of Soyuz launch vehicles from the commercial market. We keep getting some more news about who wants to get that market share. Still, our belief that the majority of it will go to SpaceX and its partners is just confirmed by today’s news that OneWeb goes with SpaceX. Two companies have just agreed to resume OneWeb’s satellite launches later this year. 

Orbit Fab has received significant investments to take its refuelling interface for satellites to the next level. It’s an important milestone to make refuelling satellites as easy as refuelling a car, which will have huge implications for space commerce and technology in general.

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ISRO prepares for its maiden flight of SSLV launch vehicle in May after successful ground testing of the newly developed solid booster stage (SS1). [Source

Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) awards Germany’s Exolaunch the contract to launch the company’s ARCSAT satellite aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to SSO by April 2022. [Source]

Indian space sector industries to be considered as a Russian launch alternative following the US and European economic sanctions with India increasing their satellite launch capability to two launches per year. [Source

Lockheed Martin awarded California-based Terran Orbital’s subsidiary Tyvak Nano Satellite Systems a contract for building 42 military satellites. [Source]

Swiss-based Beyond Gravity (former RUAG Space) opens up a new facility in Sweden to aid the production of satellite dispensers systems for constellations. [Source]

US-based Spire Global plans to develop three 12U-unit cubesats that will carry sensors for collecting Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data for Canadian company NorthStar Earth & Space, scheduled for launch in 2023. [Source

Two commercial weather data provider satellites by Boston-based Tomorrow.io that uses the California-based Astro Digital’s Corvus-XL platform successfully passed the critical design review and will be out for launch in Q4 of 2022. [Source

The latest member of the smallsat launchers, French space company Dark, prepares for its first launch from France by 2026. [Source

California’s Astranis Space looks forward to the launch of the MicroGEO satellite later this year and is expected to enhance satellite bandwidth and broadband speeds at roughly one-half the cost of existing services. [Source

Vancouver-based EarthDaily Analytics discontinues its space operations in Russia, including the development-stage contract with a Russian EO company TerraTech following the ongoing crisis. [Source

P200 smallsat, the latest generation of the UK-based QinetiQ’s PROBA satellite platform, secures a contractual agreement with NASA for delivery and other services until August 2025. [Source]

Polish Space Agency (POLSA) signs up with USA’s Virgin Orbit for use of the latter’s air-launched LauncherOne system next year to avoid the use of Russian rockets. [Source]

Canadian satellite communications company Telesat plans to downsize 298 satellites of its Lightspeed constellation to 188 amidst pandemic-related production delays and cost inflations. [Source]

Barcelona-based Celestia Aerospace gets funding of 100 million euros from UK-based  Invema Group LTD for a new nanosatellite production centre along with a launcher development centre and the operations centre for the Sagittarius Airborne Launch System (SALS) that is used to deliver nanosatellites to orbit. [Source]

The European Space Agency looks at alternatives for Russia’s Soyuz rocket launches like the new Vega C and Ariane 6 vehicles for missions like two launches of Galileo navigation satellites, ESA’s Euclid space observatory and EarthCARE Earth science satellites, and a French reconnaissance satellite. [Source]

Students at Utah State University (USU) successfully launched the world’s first Raspberry Pi-powered satellite, GASPACS CubeSat, aboard Falcon 9 into orbit with the mission to test an “aeroboom” stabilization system. [Source]  

German-based POLARIS receives the German Bundeswehr contract for manufacturing and flight-testing of its Aurora small-launcher spaceplane demonstrator with first flights by end of 2022. [Source]

Colorado-based startup Aquarian Space, aiming to build a high-speed lunar communications network, got seed funding to deploy a deploy its first satellite in Q1 2024. [Source]

Check out Precious Payload Weekly Smallsat Market Update: March 8 – 13