Exolaunch Signs New Multi-launch Agreement with SpaceX, Expanding its Capacity for Rideshare Missions

Rideshare mission (Credit: Exolaunch)

Over 95% of Exolaunch’s 3,000 kg capacity on SpaceX Transporter missions in 2022 already booked – a sign of high customer interest and constant business growth

BREMEN, Germany, 16 November 2021 (Exolaunch PR) – Exolaunch, a global provider of launch services and in-space logistics, has signed a new multi-launch agreement with SpaceX. The agreement includes more launches, more slots and more capacity for Exolaunch to integrate customer satellites onboard SpaceX dedicated rideshare missions, called Transporter missions, during the next two years.

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SpaceX Wins Competition to Launch UAE Imaging Satellite

Falcon 9 launches the Transporter-2 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has won a contract to launch to launch the United Arab Emirates first largely domestically produced satellite as a rideshare payload aboard a Falcon 9 rocket in 2023.

MBZ-Sat will be the UAE’s fourth imaging satellite, with nearly double the resolution of the earlier KhalifaSat. MBZ-Sat is named after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“We’re honored to support this mission, and we look forward to the successful launch of MBZ-SAT and many future projects,” said Tom Ochinero, SpaceX vice president of commercial sales.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) is constructing the 700 kg (1,543 lb) satellite. Engineers have completion of MBZ-Sat’s structure model and conducted initial tests, the center said.

Project director Amer Al Sayegh said during a press conference earlier this week that 90 percent of the mechanical parts and 50 percent of the electrical and electronic elements are being manufactured in the UAE. MBRSC is working with UAE-based companies Strata, EPI, Rockford Xellerix, HALCON and Falcon Group.

SpaceX has launched two Transporter rideshare missions to date. The company set a new world record by lofting 143 commercial and government satellites into orbit in January 2021. The Transporter-2 flight launched 88 satellites in June 2021. A third Transporter rideshare mission is scheduled for January.

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. Achieves 100% Mission Success for SXRS-5, Including Post Deployment Thruster Ignition of Its Electric Propulsion OTV

Sherpa variants (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., August 24, 2021 (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — During the 36th Space Symposium being held this week, Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, announced it achieved 100% mission success for both its primary and secondary missions for SXRS-5, including the commissioning and successful firing of Astra’s Apollo Fusion electric propulsion system to enable orbital transfers. The mission, which launched on June 30 aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-2 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, featured two of the company’s innovative next-generation Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) — Sherpa-LTE1 and Sherpa-FX2.  

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FAA Rolls Out New System to Better Track Launches, Reentries

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can now track a space launch or reentry vehicle in near-real time as it travels through the National Airspace System. This new capability increases safety for all airspace users and assists the FAA in efficiently managing air traffic during space operations.

The Space Data Integrator (SDI) prototype automates the delivery of vehicle-related telemetry data to the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center. This vastly improves the FAA’s situational awareness of where the vehicle is as it travels to space or as it returns to the Earth. In addition to existing tools, the FAA also can use SDI to manage air traffic more efficiently as a space operation progresses and address contingencies in the event of an anomaly during a mission.

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Blackjack Program Successfully Deploys Two Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Achievement is key step toward realization of global high-speed space network

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA successfully deployed two satellites on June 30 as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. Both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning well and progressing through checkout and commissioning. Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack  program, the Mandrake 2 mission will prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.

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Space Development Agency Successfully Launches First Missions

WASHINGTON (SDA PR) — The Space Development Agency today announced the successful launch of its first two satellite missions, Mandrake II and Laser Interconnect Networking Communications System (LINCS) and the Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET) payload, on June 30 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.

The launch, supported by SpaceX’s Transporter 2, an all-rideshare Falcon 9 mission, carried aboard SDA’s first two sets of experimental satellites, designed and built with government and industry partners, to gather data on optical communication terminal (OCT) performance in low-Earth orbit (LEO), along with the POET payload to demonstrate on-orbit data fusion, proving out core capabilities required for SDA’s future development efforts.

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Exolaunch Delivers One Ton of Small Satellites into Orbit on SpaceX’s Transporter-2 Rideshare Mission

Falcon 9 launches the Transporter-2 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 30, 2021 (Exolaunch PR) – Exolaunch, the launch, deployment and integration services provider for the New Space industry, announced a successful launch of 29 satellites totaling one metric ton for its customers from the United States, South America and Europe on a dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program. The mission, named ‘Fingerspitzengefühl’, lifted off on June 30 at 19:31 UTC on Falcon 9 ‘Transporter-2’, completing one of the largest and most diverse rideshare missions for Exolaunch. With this launch, Exolaunch has flown 170 small satellites on multiple launch vehicles.

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NanoAvionics Adds Two Nanosatellites to SpaceX Transporter-2 Mission

D2/Atlacom-1 satellite. (Credit: NanoAvionics)

COLUMBIA, Ill., June 24, 2021 (NanoAvionics PR) – NanoAvionics is gearing up for the SpaceX Transporter-2 rideshare launch at the end of June, with several satellite missions from its customers, promising to have a positive impact on businesses and communities in remote regions on Earth, as well as pioneering an ionic liquid electrospray propulsion system. Among the applications onboard are also the world’s first 1U-sized hyperspectral imager and a new high-gain X-band antenna.

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SpaceX Delays Transporter-2 Launch at Least 3 Days

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off on Transporter-1 mission. (Credit: Spaceflight Inc.)

SpaceX has announced that it is delaying the launch of its Transporter-2 rideshare mission that had been scheduled for Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to allow the launch team to make some additional checks. Reports say the new launch date will be no earlier than Monday, June 28.

Transporter-2 will deploy about 90 satellites into a sun synchronous orbit (SSO). The flight follows on the heels of the Transporter-1 mission in January, which carried a record 143 satellites. Those satellites were also placed in SSO.

Meanwhile, Russia has scheduled three launches to take place in the week ahead.

Monday, June 25

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Pion-NKS 1 electronic intelligence-gathering satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site:
 Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

Tuesday, June 29

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payload: Progress 78P International Space Station resupply ship
Launch Time: 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia

Thursday, July 1

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Payloads: 36 OneWeb broadband satellites
Launch Time: 8:48 a.m. EDT (1248 GMT)
Launch Site:
 Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

Benchmark Unveils In-Space Mobility Service to Unlock OSAM Innovations

Flexible taxi-like pay-as-you-go propulsion service enables satellite operators and service providers to dramatically reduce upfront mission costs and boost revenues and ROI by converting capex to opex

SCOUT and Orbit Fab have signed the first Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) agreements to speed their OSAM missions

BURLINGTON, Vt., June 23, 2021 (Benchmark Space Systems PR) – Benchmark Space Systems, a leading provider of in-space mobility products and services, today announced a breakthrough in-space mobility service that virtually eliminates upfront propulsion equipment costs and boosts on-orbit, servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM) mission revenues by allowing satellite operators and service providers to pay as they go for in-space transport.

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