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Precious Payload helps teams ship satellites to space.

RocketLab launches Responsive Space Program, Kongsberg Aerospace acquires NanoAvionics, and China gets ready to launch a methane-fueled rocket

Precious Payload Weekly Smallsat News: July 4 – July 10


This newsletter will bring you the most interesting news about small satellites, launch updates, and payloads looking for a launch.


Launch Updates

🇪🇺ESA wants to ensure the supply of the upper-stage engines as the first flight of the Vega C is scheduled for 13th July from 🇫🇷French Guiana carrying a primary Italian payload, LARES-2, along with six cubesats. [Source] The secondary payloads are


  1. AstroBio CubeSat (ABCS) and GreenCube by 🇮🇹Sapienza University of Rome
  2. ALPHA by 🇮🇹Spacemind
  3. Trisat-R by 🇸🇮University of Maribor
  4. MTCube-2 by 🇫🇷University of Montpellier
  5. Celesta by joint collaboration between 🇫🇷CERN and 🇫🇷University of Montpellier [Source]


🇺🇸Rocket Lab launches a Responsive Space Program designed to on-ramp commercial and government satellite operators to the company’s 24/7 rapid call-up launch capability and streamlined satellite build and operation options. [Source]


🇺🇸Rocket Lab to launch NROL-162 (July 12) and NROL-199 (July 22) missions for the 🇺🇸National Reconnaissance Office under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract. [Source]


🇨🇳Landspace gets prepared for the launch of its Zhuque-2 launch vehicle by 2023 which could be the world’s first methane-fueled rocket to make a launch attempt. Another methane-fueled rocket, 🇺🇸SpaceX’s Starship, could be launched as early as Q3 this year. [Source]


​​It seems that 🇺🇸Lynk Global is still searching for a launch option for its commercial TV satellite, which was supposed to go on Transporter 4 with 🇺🇸Spaceflight’s Sherpa platform in April. [Source



🇳🇱Dawn Aerospace has been awarded €1.4 million from the 🇪🇺European Commission to help develop its ‘green’ propulsion technology. [Source]


Researchers at 🇺🇸Carnegie Mellon University plan to develop smallsat constellations equipped with machine learning techniques that extract valuable insights from data while still on-orbit with the $7M grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Frontiers Program. [Source]


🇳🇴Kongsberg Aerospace to acquire 77% of 🇱🇹NanoAvionics valued at $67M with 🇺🇸AST SpaceMobile selling its previously acquired 51% stake in NanoAvionics. [Source]


🇩🇰GomSpace signed a $1.2M contract with the 🇩🇪German Space Agency, DLR, to deliver two 12U cubesats for a launch in January 2023. [Source] [Source]



Speqtre cubesat developed by 🇬🇧RAL Space and 🇸🇬SpeQtral (the satellite platform design by 🇳🇱 ISISPACE) has passed its critical design review and is scheduled for launch in 2024. [Source] Read our case study to learn more about how SpeQtral was kicking off a quantum key distribution satellite mission in space using Precious Payload software.


🇪🇺ESA and 🇨🇭SWISSto12 signed a partnership for the new smallsat series, HummingSat, to be launched in 2025. [Source]


🇺🇸Aurora Flight Sciences gets contracted by 🇺🇸Virgin Galactic to build two carrier aircraft for launching its suborbital spaceplanes. The first plane is scheduled to enter service in 2025. [Source]


Check out Precious Payload Weekly Smallsat News: June 27 – July 3