Jim Cantrell’s Phantom Space Aims for Launch in 2 Years

Phantom Daytona-E rocket. (Credit: Phantom Space)

Tucson.com reports about Jim Cantrell’s new launch company, Phantom Space. He formed the company after leaving the position of CEO of Vector, a launch company that went bankrupt.

Cantrell, who was an early member of Elon Musk’s SpaceX team, said he was convinced to start another satellite tech company by Michael D’Angelo, a former colleague at Vector, after the pair figured they could use the many lessons they took from Vector.

The pair co-founded Phantom Space with Michal Prywata, a biotech business executive who is investor and chief strategy officer for Phantom.

Cantrell said Phantom is taking a broader view of the still-evolving New Space industry, which has been driven by the rapid development of tiny satellites for research and communications.

Rather than create a vertically integrated company that builds everything from the ground up, Phantom is using existing technologies — notably including proven, off-the-shelf engines for its launch vehicles — and integrating them into systems to serve its customers…

After setting up a small shop on East Speedway, Phantom is in the process of building four launch vehicles and hopes to launch its first orbital flight in about two years, skipping suborbital test flights, Cantrell said.

Vector, Garvey Subsidiary File For Bankruptcy

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

Space News reports that small launch provider Vector and its subsidiary, Garvey Spacecraft Corporation, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware.

Vector had been delveloping the Vector-R booster to loft small satellites into low Earth orbit. However, it laid off most of its employees in August due to financial difficulties. CEO Jim Contrell left the company, with John Garvey taking over.

Space News reports:

According to industry sources familiar with the company, the August layoffs were triggered when one of the company’s major investors, venture fund Sequoia, withdrew its support for the company because of concerns about how the company was managed. That came as Vector was working on a new funding round, and Sequoia’s decision had a domino effect, causing other investors to back out. Sequoia didn’t respond to a request for comment in August about any role it played in Vector’s problems.

The company is currently being funded through “debtor in possession” financing from Lockheed Martin, according to a resolution by Vector’s board of directors included in the filing. Under a Nov. 20 agreement, Lockheed provided Vector with a $500,000 secured loan and proposed purchasing Vector’s assets associated with a satellite program called GalacticSky for no more than $2.5 million.

While Vector was best known for its small launch vehicle development efforts, it undertook a separate project called GalacticSky to create software-defined satellites. That resulted in a number of patents on the technology and work on prototype satellites the company once planned to start launching this year.

John Garvey Takes Over Vector as Jim Cantrell Departs

Vector rocket (Credit: Vector)

UPDATE: Berger reports two Vector employees told him the company laid off all its employees today.

Eric Berger reports that rumors of Jim Cantrell’s departure from the role of CEO at Vector are true amid reports that the launch provider is experiencing financial problems.

A spokeswoman for Vector did not comment [financial problems]. However, she did confirm the company has parted ways with its chief executive: “Jim Cantrell is no longer with Vector effective today. John Garvey has assumed the role of CEO.”

The company has been working on developing its Vector-R vehicle and trying to prepare it for a suborbital flight this summer. In an interview in April, Cantrell told Ars that he hoped to fly an upgraded version, Vector-R B1003, on an orbital flight from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska before the end of this year. The financial difficulties have reportedly arisen just after Vector received some good news in the form of a launch contract from the US Air Force.

This week, the U.S. Air Force awarded Vector a contract worth $3.4 million to orbit satellites under the Small Rocket Program-Orbital program.

Vector Space Moves Forward on Manufacturing, Testing











Vector Declares Rocket Launch Successful

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

CANTIL, Calif. (Vector PR) — Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful test launch of the P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle.

This flight test is the first of several upcoming launches which will enable Vector to evaluate critical technologies and functions of the operational family of Vector launch vehicles.

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