SpaceNews | Options grow for smallsats seeking secondary payload opportunities
Jeff Foust, the SpaceNews editor, meets with Andrew Maximov, CEO and co-founder of Precious Payload, at the SmallSat 2017 conference in Logan, Utah, to learn more about a new space-tech company solving rideshare problem:
As the number of small satellites seeking launch continues to grow, new opportunities are emerging fly those satellites as secondary payloads on other launches as well as tools to identify those opportunities.
The latest entrant in the field is Precious Payload, a company that seeks to provide a global reservation service for smallsat secondary payloads analogous to booking airline tickets or hotel rooms.
Andrey Maksimov, the company’s founder, said in an Aug. 6 interview that he decided to pursue the venture after talking with people developing smallsats who found it difficult and expensive to find accommodations for their spacecraft.
“When I started to engage with different companies, I easily recognized that the bottleneck, the biggest problem for them, is actually to find a space launch,” he said.
Maksimov, who had been doing software development for mobile satellite operator Thuraya, decided to bring his expertise in information technology (IT) to the problem.
“Coming from the IT market, I know there should be a tool that will allow investors, satellite operators and brokers to look at one place and reserve the flight for the payload,” he said.
His company’s initial offering is called Watch List, which obtains information on prospective payloads and matches it against flight opportunities it collects from various companies. Maksimov said Precious Payload has memoranda of understanding with 12 launch providers, but declined to close them.
In the longer term, he sees his company taking on a greater role in due diligence of potential payloads for launch providers. Precious Payload would require a fee from the satellite operator to perform that due diligence work, but refund it once a launch was arranged. Precious Payload would then take a commission from the launch provider.
Maksimov said his company can work with, rather than compete against, brokers of secondary payloads, providing flexibility in the form of alternative payloads or launch opportunities should a satellite or a launch suffer delays, which he said is a major issue for the industry today. “Rideshare is a mess,” he said.