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Vast’s commercial space station, ESA’s heavy-lift PROTEIN, and new start-up batches in accelerators

Precious Weekly: May 8 — 14, 2023


The world’s first and only no-BS, high signal-to-noise ratio newsletter covering commercial space stations, the small satellite market, and New Space economy.

Vast's commercial space station Haven-1

Image: Commercial space station Haven-1 by VAST


Launch Updates

🇺🇸Vast announced plans to launch the world’s first commercial space station, Haven-1, on a 🇺🇸SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in August 2025. Haven-1 will operate independently before being connected to a larger Vast space station. The company’s long-term goal is to develop a larger artificial gravity space station. Vast also secured an option for a second human spaceflight mission to Haven-1.

🇺🇸Intuitive Machines pushed back the first lunar mission of its Nova-C lander aboard Falcon 9 launch to Q3 2023. The company competes with 🇺🇸Astrobotic, whose Peregrine lander’s launch was delayed due to an incident with the Vulcan Centaur rocket’s upper stage during testing—the launch is now rescheduled for the summer. [SpaceNews]

🇨🇭ClearSpace has signed a contract with 🇫🇷ArianeSpace for the first active removal mission of space debris weighing over 110 kg. ClearSpace-1 will launch aboard Vega C in H2 2026. It aims to recover massive Vespa debris from an old European rocket launched in 2013.

🇺🇸Momentus secured a multi-launch service agreement with SpaceX for all rideshare missions in 2024, including Transporter-10 (Jan 2024), Transporter-11 (Jun 2024), and Transporter-12 (Oct 2024). Also, the company is to carry 🇹🇷Hello Space‘s demo deployer ‘Hello Pod’ with four pocketqubes on the Vigoride-7 mission aboard Transporter-9 in October 2023. Hello Space aims to establish an 80-satellite constellation. [SatelliteEvolution]

🇺🇸Virgin Galactic is set to resume spaceflights with its Unity 25 mission in May and plans to launch commercial trips in June. [SpaceDaily]

🇺🇸Viasat is looking for a new rocket to launch its third ViaSat 3 satellite, ViaSat 3 APAC. The company is considering bids from other rocket companies after moving the launch of the delayed Ariane 6 rocket. 🇺🇸SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and 🇺🇸ULA’s Vulcan rocket are the top contenders. [SpaceflightNow]

🇳🇿Gilmour Space plans to launch in the third quarter, as announced on Twitter.



🇱🇺SES is partnering with 🇩🇪TESAT to develop a QKD payload for EAGLE-1, Europe’s first LEO satellite system dedicated to quantum cryptography.

🇮🇱WeSpace Technologies plans to launch a lunar hopper within three years, offering flying services on the Moon. [Payload]

🇩🇪Rocket Factory Augsburg and 🇫🇷ArianeGroup to evaluate the viability of reusable, cost-effective heavy-lift transportation under the PROTEIN project by ESA, with findings due by September 2023. [ESA]

🇸🇪Swedish Space Corporation opened a subsidiary in Italy.

Construction has commenced at Sutherland Spaceport in Scotland, following a £14.6M funding deal secured by rocket manufacturer 🇬🇧Orbex. The spaceport will be the first vertical launch site on the 🇬🇧UK mainland and aims to launch up to 12 orbital rockets annually for satellite deployment. [ConstructionEnquirer]

🇺🇸BlackSky has asked the FCC for permission to move two of its satellites to lower orbits due to an emergency. The request is related to the anticipated depletion of propellant. The FCC will review the petition. [Twitter]

🇪🇺European space giants have teamed up to bid for the European Union’s IRIS² project. Led by 🇫🇷Eutelsat, 🇱🇺SES, and 🇪🇸Hispasat, along with 🇪🇺Airbus Defence and Space and 🇮🇹Thales Alenia Space, the consortium aims to launch a communications constellation empowered with QKD tech. [SpaceNews]

🇯🇵Astroscale and 🇺🇸Momentus have proposed a joint commercial solution to NASA for reboosting the Hubble Space Telescope. Their mission concept involves launching a Momentus Vigoride Orbital Service Vehicle equipped with Astroscale’s RPOD technology to safely rendezvous with Hubble, perform a robotic capture, and raise the telescope’s orbit. [SatelliteEvolution]

🇺🇸Phantom Space and 🇺🇸Quub have signed a launch services agreement for three dedicated launch missions. Phantom will place over 80 satellites into tailored LEO orbits to provide space-based data to mitigate climate change effects efficiently. [PR Newswire]

🇪🇸Satlantis has acquired a majority stake in 🇬🇧SuperSharp. Satlantis aims to enter the thermal imaging market with SuperSharp’s foldable thermal infrared telescopes. The acquisition enables Satlantis to offer higher-resolution images across the visible, near-infrared, and long-wave infrared spectrum at a lower cost. SuperSharp will deploy an in-orbit demonstrator by 2025, supported by Satlantis. [SpaceNews]

The 🇺🇸Axiom Space Ax-2 private astronaut mission to the ISS will conduct experiments to grow stem cells in microgravity and study their development into heart and brain cells. The mission is scheduled to launch on May 21 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. [Space.com]

🇺🇸Spire Global and 🇩🇪OroraTech have been contracted by 🇨🇦Canadian Space Agency to demonstrate wildfire detection methods from space. [BusinessWire]

🇺🇸Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Starling mission to test autonomous swarm technologies and space traffic management using small satellites. The four Starling satellites will be launched on an Electron rideshare mission from New Zealand 🇳🇿 in Q3 2024. The mission will explore in-space network communications, navigation, maneuver planning, and distributed science autonomy. [BusinessWire]

🇺🇸The University of Texas Rocket Engineering Lab plans to launch their liquid-fueled rocket, Halcyon, to the Kármán Line in 2024. With support from industry partners like Raytheon and Lockheed, they have received over $2 million in funding for the project. [Payload]

A microwave-sized rover will join 🇯🇵Japan’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission to Phobos, scheduled to launch in September 2024 aboard H3 rocket. The mission aims to determine the origin of Mars’ moons and collect samples from Phobos. [ScientificAmerican]



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🇩🇪The Exploration Company completes vacuum chamber testing for Bikini capsule, a precursor to the returnable Nyx spacecraft. [LI

🇺🇸Terran Orbital’s two 12U spacecraft, constructed for 🇺🇸Lockheed Martin’s In-space Upgrade Satellite System (LM LINUSS), successfully demonstrated operations in the GEO belt after their January deployment, signifying a crucial stride towards constructing large-scale constellations. [BusinessWire]

UoBSat team from the 🇬🇧University of Bristol recently completed an environmental test campaign for their cubesat imaging payload ‘PROVE-Pathfinder.’ [Satnews]

In preparation for its upcoming launch on Transporter-8, the 🇺🇸Starfish Space’s Otter Pup satellite has completed its final integration with 🇺🇸VAST’s Orbiter. [LinkedIn]

🇫🇷ThrustMe’s iodine-fueled NPT30-I2 propulsion system, installed on the NorSat Technology Demonstrator satellite, has shown successful performance and responsiveness. [LinkedIn]

🇺🇸Impulse Space has qualified its Saiph thruster for the upcoming LEO Express-1 mission in October 2023 aboard Transporter 9. The thruster underwent successful testing, demonstrating burn durations of up to 12 minutes. Impulse Space offers agile and cost-effective space logistics services, focusing on LEO missions and plans for destinations like GEO, the Moon, and Mars.

🇺🇸Momentus demonstrated the propulsion system on its Vigoride space tug, raising the vehicle’s orbit. [SpaceNews]

Funding and Contracts 

🇳🇿Zenno booked $78M in pre-sales for its magnetic satellite control and propulsion system “super-torquer”. [BusinessDesk]

🇺🇸Astroscale secured $44M in debt from Mizuho Bank and MUFG Bank. [Payload]

🇧🇬EnduroSat raised $10M in a Series A investment round led by Ceecat Capital. [SpaceNews]

🇸🇦OQ Technology has initiated its commercial 5G services through its satellite constellation, with a nearly €1M contract from a prominent, yet undisclosed, oil and gas company.[Satnews]

🇺🇸Albedo secures second $2.5M US Air Force grant for high-resolution satellite imagery. They obtained a license to sell ultra-high resolution imagery and aim to reduce costs by flying satellites equipped with electric propulsion in VLEO. [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸Redwire’s EU subsidiary secured a €14M ESA contract to develop the 3D-BioSystem Facility. This facility will use 3D bioprinting technologies to advance tissue manufacturing capabilities for long-duration spaceflight. [BusinessWire]

🇨🇭Klepsydra, known for space data processing software, raised over $1.12M in funding led by 🇨🇭Spicehaus Partners. [EdgeIR]

🇪🇸PLD Space to construct a new rocket manufacturing plant in Elche, Spain, representing an investment of €85M. [InfoeSpacial]

🇨🇳 China’s CAS Space has raised $86.84M in its Series C funding round led by government-backed investor Guangzhou Industrial Investment and Capital Operation Holding Group. The company recently conducted a successful rocket vertical landing test at sea. [Verdict]

🇺🇸Orbital Outpost X receives $5M investment from Space Infrastructures Ventures to develop components for commercial space stations, supporting the goal of deploying the modular space station, Orbital Outpost 1, tended by robots and human crews. [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸Terran Orbital receives milestone payment for its $2.4B contract with 🇺🇸Rivada Space Networks to develop and deploy 300 LEO satellites. The partnership aims to bring Rivada’s laser-connected data network to reality, with an initial demonstrator mission set to launch by 2024. [AP]

🇺🇸Light Steering Technologies secured a $1.25M contract from the US Air Force to validate its Multi-Axis Scanner technology for small satellites in space environments through thermal vacuum and vibration testing. [SpaceNews]

🇺🇸Intellian Technologies invests $100M in satellite communication R&D at their new Advanced Development Center (ADC) in Maryland. The ADC will focus on developing phased array antennas and user terminals, expanding global connectivity, and addressing the digital divide. [Satnews]

Veteran Ventures Capital’s Veteran Fund I has made its fourth investment into 🇺🇸Phase Four, a company specializing in plasma-based satellite propulsion systems. The funding amount remains undisclosed.[PR Newswire]


Start-up Cohorts in Accelerator Programs

🇬🇧Seraphim Space picked nine space startups for its latest accelerator program: 

  • 🇱🇹 Astrolight (Lithuania) develops optical communications for LEO satellites.
  • 🇮🇹 Kurs Orbital (Italy) specializes in spacecraft docking technology.
  • 🇮🇳 GalaxEye (India) builds a multi-sensor imaging satellite for Earth observation.
  • 🇺🇸 Allocation Space (US) develops trading tools for the space industry.
  • 🇸🇬 EarthEye (Singapore) creates an online marketplace for geospatial data.
  • 🇺🇸 Amini (US) plans an Africa-focused IoT satellite constellation.
  • 🇺🇸 Orbital Composites (US) improves satellite payload capacity through 3D-printing.
  • 🇺🇸 SPACEIUM (US) develops in-space refueling stations.
  • 🇺🇸 Virtus Solis (US) works on commercial space-based solar power.


Selected Startups for AWS Space Accelerator 2023:

  • 🇺🇸 Delta-V Analytics – Offers automated satellite operations via a cloud-based platform.
  • 🇦🇹 GATE Space – Provides scalable, cost-efficient mobility for satellites.
  • 🇫🇷 GRASP – Creates satellite instruments for climate change mitigation and air quality improvement.
  • 🇺🇸 In Orbit Aerospace – Builds infrastructure for space mass manufacturing.
  • 🇺🇸 Integrate – Develops logistics platform for complex space industry scenarios.
  • 🇺🇸 Kawa Space – Delivers space-powered signals intelligence and maritime domain awareness.
  • 🇺🇸 Little Place Labs – Provides real-time space analytics using advanced machine learning.
  • 🇺🇸 Lunasonde – Utilizes low-frequency radar for subsurface exploration.
  • 🇺🇸 Nominal – Offers validation software for high-stakes hardware testing.
  • 🇺🇸 Raven Space Systems – Constructs 3D-printed reentry capsules for cargo return from space.
  • 🇺🇸 Rogue Space Systems – Supplies autonomous robotic systems for in-space services.
  • 🇺🇸 Space Kinetic – Develops low-cost, solar-powered in-space mobility solutions.
  • 🇺🇸 Violet Labs – Creates cloud-based software integration for hardware engineering.
  • 🇺🇸 Xona Space Systems – Offers precise positioning capabilities via the PULSAR service.


To keep up with the rapid growth of commercial space launches, US spaceports require significant infrastructure upgrades and better coordination between commercial operators and governmental agencies, new spaceport ownership models, and simplified federal spaceport regulations, argue Bryce Kennedy and Greg Autry. [SpaceNews]


Discover our updates from last week – click the link now!


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