New smallsat rocket company obtains financing

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The competition heats up: A new rocket company, Vector Space Systems, has announced that it has obtained seed money to begin the development of a new rocket for launch very small satellites.

Vector is designed to provide dedicated launches of very small spacecraft. The vehicle is capable of placing satellites weighing up to 45 kilograms into a basic low Earth orbit, and 25 kilograms into a standard sun synchronous orbit. Those launches will cost $2–3 million each, with the higher price reserved for “first class” launches reserved as little as three months in advance.

This rocket would compete with Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne and Rocket Lab’s Electron for the smallsat and cubesat business.

One comment

  • Dick Eagleson

    It looks as though their likely market is for smaller smallsats than the OneWeb-type units that VG and Rocket Lab are pursuing. Vector’s technical stats page only mentions cubesats. The upper stage has enough volume to accommodate 12U worth of cubesats, though the maximum mass varies from 25 kg. for a 400 km. sun-synchronous orbit to 45 kg. for 28 – 58 degree 200 km. orbits. This vehicle could launch more than one cubesat per mission, depending upon their mass, but it looks to be aimed mainly at solo rides for comparatively heavy and sophisticated cubesats. That market will probably consist mostly of corporate experiments/prototypes and student payloads from educational institutions. At $2 million/mission, the initial target price is a lot cheaper than a VG or Rocket Lab launch. Given that the intent is for the 1st stage of the vehicle to be reusable, there seems to be future potential for still cheaper mission prices which, especially with respect to cubesats, would greatly increase the size of the market that could be served.

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