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Falcon Heavy is back, Relativity raises millions, and Orbit Fab receives a much-deserved funding

Precious Payload Market Update: September 5, 2021 — September 12, 2021

Let’s take a look at what’s up in the small satellite industry. We collect the latest trends and developments each week and share our most recent findings in the Precious Payload Market Update newsletter. Subscribe to our weekly market updates here.

Al Yah Satellite Communications Company selects SpaceX to launch Thuraya 4-NGS aboard Falcon 9 in Q2 2023. (Refer)

The Australian Defence Force’s M2 satellite, launched by Rocket lab in Q2 2021, successfully separated into two smaller CubeSats, M2A and M2B. (Refer)

Rocket Lab signs a contract with Kinéis for five launches by Q2 2023. European company builds an IoT connectivity constellation of 25 satellites. (Refer)

Relativity Space receives $50M investments from a consortium of three South Korean companies, Hanwha Aerospace, NH Investment & Securities, and Consus Asset Management, as a part of the $650M Series E funding round held earlier this year. Other major Series E investors were Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, Centricus, Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth funds. (Refer)

D-Orbit signs a €2,197M contract with the European Space Agency for phase 1 of the development and in-orbit demonstration of a “Deorbit Kit” to be launched aboard Vega in 2025. (Refer)

China launches six new satellites into orbit:

  • 2 “fusion” communication technology test satellites by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and one classified by DFH Satellite Inc (maybe) aboard a Long March 2C from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. (Refer)
  • Gaofen 5 (02) hyperspectral EO satellite, developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) aboard the Long March 4C rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center and (Refer)
  • ChinaSat-9B communications satellite, operated by CASC subsidiary China Satcom aboard a Long March 3B lifted from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (Refer)

DARPA wants to launch twelve satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare in 2022. (Refer)

Falcon Heavy is back:

  • SpaceX confirms its long-awaited launch of the Falcon Heavy mission no earlier than October 9, 2021. (Refer)
  • NASA wants to launch Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) mission aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket by Q2 2024. (Refer)

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) will launch INSPIRESat-1 aboard the next PSLV mission by Q4 2021. (Refer)

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) plans to develop a micro-satellite-based reconnaissance system to enhance its capability to detect security threats such as North Korea’s mobile missile launchers. (Refer)

Isar Aerospace signs an LSA with OroraTech. The company wants to launch the wildfire monitoring CubeSat constellation aboard Isar’s Spectrum rocket by Q2 2022 and plans additional launches to deploy more than 10 OroraTech’s spacecraft into SSO next four years. (Refer)

Kleos Space raises AUS$12.6M ($9.3M) from “new and existing institutional and sophisticated investors,” including Perennial Value Management, and will use the funds to launch its future satellite clusters. (Refer)

BlackSky Holdings, Inc. completes its merger with Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp. and is ready to take its company public starting this month. (Refer)

Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) partnered with UP Aerospace and performed a suborbital flight experiment, dubbed ReDX-1, last month. The launch vehicle carried a LANL-developed diagnostic and communication payload. The flight conducted on August 11 cost $1M and occurred 15 months after the initial concept. (Refer)

Switzerland-based Swissto12 collaborates with US-based Saturn Satellite Networks to market MicroGEO satellites. (Refer)

0-G Launch partners with US-based Exos Aerospace, which will use Space Jet as a commercial air-launch platform for small orbital rocket deliveries. Exos Aerospace will book, manage and deploy its customer payloads using their Jaguar rocket systems to LEO, targeting initial launches in Q4 2023. (Refer)

Orbit Fab receives $10M during its latest investment round from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The deal brings the total funding estimation to around $17M. The company plans to develop a range of tankers and fuel shuttles in LEO, GEO, and cislunar space. (Refer)