Tag Archives: Momentus

Swarm and Momentus team up to launch and position satellites

Capitalism in space: Swarm, builder of the tiny cubesats dubbed SpaceBees, has teamed up with Momentus to use that company’s Vigoride cubesat upper stage to position its satellites in different orbits after launch.

Under an agreement announced April 22, Momentus will arrange rides for 12 Swarm SpaceBee satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission in December 2020 with additional SpaceBee launches scheduled in 2021 and 2022.

To offer global coverage for customers seeking to relay messages through the internet, Swarm satellites must be stationed in different orbital planes and spread out within those orbital planes like a string of pearls, Sara Spangelo, Swarm co-founder and CEO, told SpaceNews.

For the Falcon 9 launch in December, Momentus will not move Swarm SpaceBees to a new orbital plane. In the future, Momentus’ Vigoride in-space shuttle will offer Swarm the option of moving SpaceBees from the rocket’s drop-off point to different locations, Negar Feher, Momentus vice president of product and business development, said by email.

Both companies have raised significant investment capital.

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Momentus wins contract with Taiwan university

Capitalism in space: Momentus, a company that sells a small upper stage designed to provide orbital transportation for cubesats, has won a new contract with Taiwan university.

Under the agreement, Momentus will provide in-space transportation for a satellite mission called Intelligent Remote-Sensing and Internet Satellite (IRIS)-A. Odysseus is providing pre-launch testing and arranging launch services for the IRIS-A mission developed by Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University. IRIS-A is designed to test technology to improve the quality of downlink signals.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, Momentus executives say they are continuing to sign up customers interested in traveling on Vigoride, a vehicle to move small satellites from their drop-off point in orbit to their final destination.

The article does not say what rocket will launch the cubesat plus Vigoride, but Momentus has a contract with SpaceX to launch five cubesats as secondary payloads, so this is probably how the payload will reach orbit.

Normally cubesats launched as secondary payloads on big rockets like the Falcon 9 have very limited options on the orbits they can reach. The primary payload’s requirements are what rules. The idea here is Vigoride takes over once deployed and moves the satellite to the exact orbit needed. If Momentus is successful in doing this it will give cubesat makers many more launch options. It will also put more competitive pressure on the smallsat rockets like Rocket Lab’s Electron, since its main selling point is how it can put cubesats where they want to go, something that bigger rockets have not been able to do, up until now.

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Momentus announces new customer for its cubesat upper stage services

Capitalism in space: Momentus, an company that is offering an upper stage to move tiny cubesats into higher orbits after launch, has announced that the United Kingdom cubesat company SteamJet has purchased that upper stage for use when its next satellite is launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket later this year.

Momentus’s approach signals a fundamental change that commercial space is now undergoing. Traditionally the launch company would provide this kind of service, but for cubesats flying as secondary payloads that isn’t possible. Momentus is thus taking it on as an independent secondary launch service for cubesats alone. With this announcement the company already has five customers, with launches scheduled for the next two years.

SteamJet also is most intriguing along these same lines.

Once in orbit, SteamJet intends to demonstrate a propulsion system that uses water or another low pressure, non-toxic, non-corrosive fluid propellant to create thrust. SteamJet houses its propulsion system in a module shaped like a tuna can that attaches to the exterior of a cubesat.

A lot of exciting things are going to be happening in space in this coming decade, and almost all will be because of private enterprise, freedom, and competition, fueled by profit.

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Relativity gets another launch contract

Capitalsm in space: The smallsat rocket company Relativity has signed another launch contract, this time with Momentus, a company making orbital smallsat tugs capable of transporting smallsats to higher orbits.

The launch agreement, announced during Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week here, covers one launch of Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket in 2021 with an option for up to five additional launches. The companies did not disclose the terms of the agreement, but Relativity offers the Terran 1 for a list price of $10 million.

The 2021 launch will fly Momentus’ Vigoride Extended tug, capable of carrying up to 350 kilograms of satellites. The tug will transport the satellites from an initial low Earth orbit to geostationary orbit using its water plasma thruster technology.

This is Relativity’s fourth launch contract, all signed prior to their first test launch. Right now they hope to start test flights late in 2020, with their first operational flights in 2021.

Momentus meanwhile adds a capability to all these smallsat rockets, essentially providing them an upper stage that will get the smallsats they launch from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit.

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One smallsat satellite company hires another

Capitalism in space: One smallsat satellite company, Exolaunch, has hired another smallsat company, Momentus, to provide it with in-space transportation capabilities.

Exolaunch, the German launch services provider formerly known as ECM Space, signed a contract to pay in-space transportation startup Momentus more than $6 million to move satellites in low Earth orbit in 2020 with a service called Vigoride and from low Earth to geosynchronous orbit in 2021 with Vigoride Extended.

With Vigoride, Exolaunch will send “cubesat and microsatellite constellations to multiple orbits, giving clients an unprecedented flexibility of satellite deployment, reducing the price of launch, and giving access to orbits not typical for ridesharing vehicles,” Dmitriy Bogdanov, Exolaunch chief executive, said in a statement. “We also plan to deliver smallsats to geosynchronous orbit using the Vigoride Extended service. Momentus will enable us to service a larger segment of the market by enabling our customers to reach custom orbits in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Essentially, Momentus is building a cubesat-sized rocket engine that can be used to transport other cubesats from one orbit to another. The engine apparently uses water as the fuel in a ion-type engine, and will be tested in space for the first time in the next few months.

Momentus’s business plan seems quite clever. Up until now smallsats, especially those launched as secondary payloads, have not had a way to change their orbits, once deployed from their rocket. Momentus is offering this capability, at the very moment we are about to see a boom in the number of smallsats launched.

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