Axiom Space and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Announce Japan-based Joint Venture

HOUSTON and TOKYO (Axiom Space PR) — Building on the strategic partnership that Axiom Space and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. signed in September, and following Mitsui’s investment in Axiom Space, the partners have initiated the formation of a joint venture in Japan to accelerate on-orbit services to commercial and government customers. This unique partnership builds on both Axiom’s in-space capabilities and Mitsui’s global industrial reach.

Together, Axiom Space and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. are opening the doors for non-traditional users to leverage the advantages of space, including microgravity and the unique vantage point of Low Earth Orbit. These services broaden international human spaceflight, research, manufacturing, and other opportunities at the International Space Station, and enhance a growing set of opportunities at Axiom Station, now under construction.

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Astra’s Apollo Fusion Thruster Ignites on First Attempt in Orbit with Spaceflight

A complete ACE Max thruster unit being tested. (Credit: Apollo Fusion)

Ignition demonstrates technology-proven and cost-effective electric propulsion (EP) system 

ALAMEDA, Calif., August 24, 2021 (Astra Space/Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR), today announced the successful orbital ignition of its Apollo Fusion thruster on board the Spaceflight Sherpa-LTE1 orbital transfer vehicle (OTV). The Sherpa OTV launched June 30 from SpaceX’s Transporter-2 mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After successfully deploying all rideshare payloads, Spaceflight commissioned the Apollo Fusion thruster, representing Astra’s first attempt at firing the thruster in orbit, marking a significant technical milestone.  

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Spaceflight Inc. Unveils Propulsive Orbital Transfer Vehicles to Launch Smallsats to Custom Orbital Destinations

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

New OTVs, slated to launch in 2021, will minimize the impact of extended development timelines and schedule delays while providing increased launch flexibility 

SEATTLE, November 12, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, announced today that it is developing two additional next-generation orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) that will debut in 2021. Its first, Sherpa-FX, will fly on a fully dedicated rideshare mission with SpaceX, dubbed SXRS-3 by Spaceflight, no earlier than December 2020. The next two ESPA-class space vehicles in the company’s portfolio are designed to provide more orbital diversification, including flexible manifest changes, deployment to multiple altitudes and orbital planes, and rapid launch solutions. 

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Mitsui Completes Acquisition of Spaceflight

SEATTLE, June 12, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) – Today, satellite rideshare launch provider, Spaceflight Inc., announced its acquisition by Mitsui & Co., Ltd., in partnership with Yamasa Co., Ltd., is now complete with the final review of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

In February 2020, Spaceflight’s parent company, Spaceflight Industries, announced it had signed an agreement with the Japanese companies for the sale of the launch service provider, pending the CFIUS review. The review was complete in April and the acquisition finalized today, June 12, 2020. Mitsui & Co. and Yamasa will have 50/50 joint venture ownership in Spaceflight, but the launch service provider will continue to operate as a privately held, independent U.S.-based company.

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JAXA Selects Kibo Small Satellite Deployment Service Providers

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On February 23, 2018, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made an announcement to the private sector that it would compare proposals and select service providers capable of providing small satellite deployment services from Kibo on the International Space Station. And after carefully evaluating the proposals, JAXA has selected Space BD Inc. and MITSUI & CO., LTD. as the service providers.

In line with the second version of the “Kibo Utilization Strategy” adopted in August 2017, JAXA intends to promote the private sector’s autonomic activities in the module (private sector participation). These two companies were selected as service providers for small satellite deployment activities in the first phase of the strategy.

In 2012, JAXA developed the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) for assuming unique small satellite missions utilizing two advantageous technologies–the Robot Arm and Airlock of Kibo on the ISS. As of the end of May 2018, JAXA has successfully deployed more than 200 small satellites from Kibo, including deployment opportunities for the United States as well.

The market of small satellites is expected to further expand globally. JAXA has to date provided fee-based services on its own. JAXA expects that companies Space BD Inc. and MITSUI & CO., LTD. will provide unique services based on their original private entity ideas to both domestic and international markets, and thus further expand the demand for small satellite deployment. As a result, the utilization of Kibo and low Earth orbits will also increase.











First Quarter Commercial Space Investment Reached Nearly $1 Billion

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with a Dragon resupply ship on April 2, 2018. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.

“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.

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Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio & Spaceflight Industries Finalize Alliance to Manufacture Smallsats at Scale

Global-1 satellite (Credit: BlackSky)

Parties will deliver innovative geospatial services using the high revisit rate BlackSky constellation

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2018 (Spaceflight Industries PR)  At the Satellite 2018 conference, The Space Alliance formed by Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) announced today it has officially taken a minority stake in Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, having received all government approvals for the transaction.

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