Launcher has announced the customers on the first flight of its satellite transfer vehicle and hosted payload platform Orbiter. Orbiter’s first mission, SN1, is scheduled to reach orbit in October 2022 on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Transporter-6 rideshare launch. Launcher’s customers, spanning academia, startups and established industry leaders, demonstrate the growing demand for orbit transfer and hosted payload services.
The list of Orbiter’s first flight customers includes:
- Skyline Celestial – Develops Earth’s most capable and affordable personal satellites for the next generation of space exploration.
- Innova Space – Designs pico-satellites and nanosatellites that aim to change the world with greater IoT connectivity. Their upcoming constellation of approximately 100 picosatellites optimized for IoT communications will provide a highly secure, bi-directional connection to any IoT device on Earth in minutes.
- NPC Spacemind – A versatile Italian space company with the vision of becoming a one-stop shop for innovative products and space projects.
- Bronco Space | Cal Poly Pomona – The Bronco Space student-run space research group will be launching PROVES – Yearling. Yearling will be Cal Poly Pomona’s second space mission and is intended primarily as an educational venture by giving students access to a “lab bench in space.” Yearling will also be testing new technologies to enable lower cost CubeSat architectures that are equipped with novel Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning compute capabilities alongside a satellite-to-satellite networking demonstration with the Stanford Student Space Initiative.
- Stanford Student Space initiative – Stanford’s student-run organization with the mission of giving future leaders of the space industry the hands-on experience and broader insight they need to realize the next era of space development.
- Undisclosed customer
- CesiumAstro – Orbiter will host CesiumAstro’s Nightingale active phased array payload which will demonstrate advanced phased array communication capabilities including beam optimization, dynamic waveform switching, and dynamic link optimization on orbit. Nightingale is a full-stack, multi-mission communication system enabling high data rate Ka-band communications in a small form factor for small satellite applications spanning LEO, Cislunar and Lunar environments.
- Undisclosed customer – Orbiter to provide power and communications.
- Beyond Burials – Offers affordable space memorial experiences that help family members celebrate their loved ones in a unique, meaningful, and inspiring way.
- TRL11 – Provides technology solutions for the New Space Economy and addresses the most demanding challenges and opportunities arising from the rapid growth of space-based assets.
On SpaceX Transporter flights, Orbiter can carry up to 400 kg of payload mass in the form of small and cube satellites. Additionally, Orbiter can support components and payloads by providing power, communications, and other commodities. Orbiter is equipped with a chemical propulsion system that uses ethane and nitrous oxide propellants, and the vehicle will initially provide up to 500 meters per second of delta-v, or change in velocity. Orbiter is designed to integrate with SpaceX Transporter 24-inch ports and maximize the available volume to its customer payload.
Due to the in-house design and production of the majority of the structure, propulsion, and avionics components, Orbiter is offered to its customers at an industry-leading price of $400,000 per dedicated vehicle (excluding SpaceX flight cost). Launch and orbit transfer services are also offered to Orbiter rideshare customers at a per kilogram price of $8,000-$25,000 (including SpaceX flight cost), depending on mission requirements.
“We are honored to have a broad range of customers joining us on Orbiter’s first flight, including academia, early-stage companies, and more established ones. We are especially pleased to host two of these payloads on a long-duration mission– proving Orbiter’s viability and utility as a hosted satellite platform.” stated Launcher Head of Product and Business Development David Caponio.
Orbiter provides unique value to its customers by allowing them to quickly reach nearby rideshare orbits and precisely insert each spacecraft into its proper mission orbit in the most efficient way possible. The delta-v provided by Orbiter can be used to adjust altitude, inclination, and LTDN (Local Time of Descending Node) as well as local anomaly tailoring to distribute small spacecraft quickly and evenly along an entire orbital plane. Given the low additional cost for Orbiter above the SpaceX rideshare price, delta-v can be imparted to each customer spacecraft at a lower cost than implementing or expanding spacecraft resident propulsion systems. This lowers the overall capital cost of each spacecraft and extends its lifetime by maximizing the propellant remaining after reaching its proper mission orbit.
When Orbiter completes its transfer mission, the platform continues to host components and payloads for up to two years. This enables both early-stage and mature space companies to increase the heritage and technology readiness of their payload or components without the added cost of a dedicated spacecraft and ground operations infrastructure. Using the shared resources available from Orbiter, these services are provided in a more efficient manner.
“Our customers on Orbiter’s inaugural flight this October illustrate the market need for transfer and hosted payload services, which we are proud to deliver at the lowest price in the industry.” stated Max Haot, CEO of Launcher.