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Two Rocket Launch Failures and a Successful Deployment

In a roller-coaster of space endeavors, the headline “Two Rocket Launch Failures and a Successful Deployment” captures the essence of recent events. Firefly Aerospace’s triumphant launch for the U.S. Space Force stands out, especially after overcoming past challenges. Meanwhile, investments are pouring in, with Sidereus Space Dynamics securing a notable €5.1 million for their next-gen launcher. Dive into our latest newsletter to catch up on these highlights and more, from rocket tests in Wales to ambitious projects in Italy and beyond. Stay updated with the pulse of the space industry!

Precious Weekly: September 18 — 24, 2023

Two rocket launch failures and a success deployment

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Launch Updates

🇺🇸 Firefly Aerospace successfully launched its Alpha rocket, deploying the VICTUS NOX spacecraft for the U.S. Space Force. This follows a previous flight failure in 2021 and partial failure in 2022 where the rocket reached orbit but satellites were deployed on a lower orbit and re-entered Earth prematurely. The recent launch was executed on a 24-hour notice, showcasing rapid response capabilities. [Firefly]

🇺🇸 Rocket Lab’s recent Electron launch from New Zealand faced an anomaly approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds after liftoff. The mission was carrying the Acadia 2 satellite for San Francisco-based Capella Space. [CNBC]

🇨🇳 Chinese rocket startup, Galactic Energy, experienced a launch failure with its Ceres-1 vehicle shortly after takeoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. This resulted in the destruction of the Chang Guang Jilin-1 Gaofen-04 B satellite. [Payload]


Progress (Spacecraft Development, Satellite Technology, and Applications Milestones)

  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Welsh startup SmallSpark Space Systems has successfully conducted a long-duration hot fire test of its NEWT-A2 thruster prototype. Funded in part by a £76,000 grant from the UK Space Agency, the NEWT-A2 thruster is described as the “world’s simplest bi-propellant satellite thruster.” SmallSpark aims to demonstrate the thruster in-flight within the next 18 months and is currently exploring potential collaborations for this demonstration. [European Spaceflight]
  • 🇮🇹 Italian company Avio has successfully completed a 340 secs continuous firing test of the M10, the new VegaE’s upper-stage engine. [Avio]
  • 🇮🇳 Skyroot Aerospace completed wind tunnel testing at the National Aerospace Laboratories, Bengaluru, marking a key milestone towards 🚀the Vikram-1 launch. [Skyroot]
  • 🇺🇸 AST SpaceMobile has successfully achieved space-based 5G cellular broadband connectivity using standard smartphones using the BlueWalker 3 test satellite, in partnership with 🇬🇧 Vodafone, 🇺🇸 AT&T, and 🇫🇮 Nokia. A 5G call was made from Maui, Hawaii, to Madrid, Spain, using an unmodified Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone, achieving a download rate of approximately 14 Mbps. The company plans to launch its first five commercial satellites in Q1 2024. [AST SpaceMobile]
  • 🇪🇺The Ariane 6 rocket, under development, has faced another setback due to an anomaly in its thrust vector control system. This has led to the postponement of a long-duration hot fire test initially scheduled for 3 October. The maiden flight of Ariane 6 is anticipated in 2024. [European Spaceflight]




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🇺🇸 Sidus Space, a Data-as-a-Service company building an LEO constellation, revises its launch plans: Initially set for a Q4 2023 launch on Transporter-9, the first LizzieSat will now aim for Q1 2024. Additionally, two LizzieSats are scheduled for a Bandwagon mission in Q2 2024. With launches on Transporter-10 and Transporter-11, Sidus expects to have five LizzieSats in orbit by Q3 2024. [Sidus]

🇺🇸 Momentus will transport 🇩🇰Aarhus University’s DISCO-II payload, a climate monitoring cubesat. The satellite is set to launch in late 2024, following the successful deployment of the university’s DISCO-I CubeSat in April 2023. [Momentus]

🇫🇷 Dark, a French space debris removal startup, developing Interceptor vehicle, has partnered with Bordeaux Airport to establish its Site B facility. Dark plans to hire staff in Bordeaux by the summer of 2024, aiming to employ 500 people at the facility. [Dark]

🇩🇪 German startup RFA has unveiled its heavyweight cargo service with an integrated inflatable re-entry module. This development is a collaboration with Atmos Space Cargo and Sener, and was presented to ESA. The vehicle to carry up to 3,400 kg to the ISS and other commercial space stations. The consortium is further strengthened with OHB SE providing services and MT Aerospace AG as the industrialization partner. [RFA] 

🇮🇳ISRO will facilitate the transfer of technology (ToT) for the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) to one of 23 private companies applied for the ToT. The SSLV is a 3-stage launch vehicle capable of deploying approximately 500kg satellites in a 500-km planar orbit. [The Hindu]

🇺🇸 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opens the necessary spectrum for communication during and post-liftoff for commercial launchers [Payload]

🇺🇸 Maxar Technologies, known for its imaging satellites and spacecraft manufacturing, will be divided into two separate business entities. [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸Aerospace Corporation is developing DiskSat, a new type of flat, compact spacecraft suitable for various missions, including comms, reconnaissance, and EO. The satellite dispenser will have a 55 mm center-to-center distance, maximizing surface area for solar cells and RF apertures on a lightweight frame. With 100 to 120 watts of solar cells, each satellite will weigh approximately 12 kg and feature electric propulsion capable of achieving several hundred meters per second in Delta-v. The company will deliver flight hardware in August 2024 and work to identify a launch. [Parabolic Arc]

Funding, Grants, and Contracts 

🇺🇸 Kayhan Space secured a $7M seed extension, with Space Capital and EVE Atlas leading the round. The funding comes ahead of the release of Pathfinder 3.0, an update to their space traffic coordination software, and the launch of a new office in Washington, DC. In total, Kayhan Space has raised $11M across three rounds. [Kayhan]

🇺🇸 ABL has secured a $15M contract for a ‘responsive launch’ mission with the U.S. Space Force. The details of the mission remain undisclosed. [ABL]

🇮🇹Sidereus Space Dynamics announced a Seed+ investment of €5.1 million from Primo Ventures – Space Fund and CDP Venture Capital SGR to reinforce the development and accomplish EOS’s first pre-flight and flight tests of EOS, their next-gen single-stage launcher. [Sidereus Space]

🇫🇷 ArianeGroup has invested an additional €27M in MaiaSpace, a subsidiary working on a partially reusable two-stage rocket named Maia, scheduled for a 🚀maiden flight in 2025. This investment signifies a strong vote of confidence in MaiaSpace’s innovative endeavors. [European Spaceflight] 

🇰🇷 Korea to invest $362.3M by 2030 to develop its own version of the Starlink network using LEO satellites. [Korea JoongAng Daily]

🌍 Spire Global wins a $2.8M contract by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for delivering satellite weather data. [Spire]

🇺🇸 Astroscale has secured a $25.5M contract from the Space Force for a satellite orbital refueling demonstration mission slated for 2026. [Space Force]

🇺🇸True Anomaly has been awarded a $17.4M Space Force contract to enhance satellite operator efficiency and collision avoidance, particularly for the military’s expanding SDA constellation. [True Anomaly]

🇺🇸 Peraton has secured a $330.3M contract with NASA to design, manufacture, integrate, test, and conduct mission launch operations for a wide range of highly complex suborbital payloads and sounding rockets for upper atmospheric research. [ASD News] 


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