Bankrupt small satellite launch provider Vector is back in business with new owners, a new engine for the Vector-R booster, and a focus on suborbital flights. SpaceNewsreports:
The new owner of Vector’s launch assets is a consortium led by John Moran, president and chief executive of Moran Logistics, a shipping company based in Pennsylvania. They are restarting Vector with Robert Spalding, a retired Air Force brigadier general who previously served on the staff of the National Security Council, as chief executive.
Spalding said in an interview he had been familiar with the original Vector during his time at the White House because of his work at the time on developing secure 5G networks. After leaving government service, he started up a 5G company and talked with Vector about supporting those plans. He kept in contact with Vector after it filed for Chapter 11 and convinced investors to purchase the assets….
Vector had been developing engines that used propylene and liquid oxygen propellants. The new Vector plans to instead use engines powered by a more conventional combination of liquid oxygen and refined kerosene, or RP-1, propellants. Barker has been developing such engines since the 1990s for companies such as Space America and Earth to Sky.
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.
In response to a significant change in financing, Vector Launch Inc (Vector) announced today that it is undertaking a pause of operations. A core team is evaluating options on completing the development of the company’s Vector-R small launch vehicle, while also supporting the Air Force and other government agencies on programs such as the recent ASLON-45 award.
The company plans to make more information available next week.
TUCSON, Ariz., Jan. 11, 2019 (Vector PR) —Vector, a space access company serving the over $300 billion space market, today announced it will conduct a dedicated launch of a nanosatellite for Hiber later this year from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska in Kodiak. Hiber, a Dutch company with two nanosatellites already in orbit, plans to utilize the Vector-R dedicated small satellite launch system to deploy its nanosatellite.
TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 19, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector, a leading microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that it has secured $70M in a Series B funding round led by Kodem Growth Partners, in conjunction with Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners.
TUCSON, Ariz. (Vector PR) — Vector, a microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that James (Jim) F. Palmer, the former corporate vice president and chief financial officer of the Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been elected to Vector’s Board of Directors.
A respected veteran of the aerospace community, Palmer brings with him more than 45 years of financial experience, including CFO positions at three Fortune 500 companies, and spanning large corporations such as Northrop Grumman Corporation, Visteon, Boeing Capital Corporation, a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
Microsatellite launch company receives patent for technology it pioneered, enabling higher performance at reduced cost and complexity
TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 25, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector a microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that the company received a U.S. patent for its enhanced liquid oxygen-propylene rocket engine. Vector is the first and only launch provider to utilize propylene fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) in an operational launch system. This engine patent validates the innovative nature of Vector’s approach and further protects the company’s fundamental technology as it prepares to deliver customer payloads to orbit.
NASA has selected Vector Launch company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to demonstrate a micropump-based stage pressurization system. The two-year contract is worth up to $750,000.
“Electrically-driven micropumps drive a small portion of each propellant over a novel 3D-printed heat exchanger at the engine to pressurize the tanks. Excess flow can be diverted to the engine as needed,” the company said in its proposal.
TUCSON, Ariz., March 8, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector, a nanosatellite launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced it will conduct a dedicated launch of two PocketQube satellites using an Alba Orbital deployer (AlbaPOD) on the Vector-R launch vehicle later this year from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) in Kodiak.
Alba Orbital, a manufacturer of PocketQube satellites, will launch the Unicorn-2a satellite platform and a satellite developed by Delft University of Technology, Delfi-PQ1. The launch itself marks a historic moment for both Vector and Alba Orbital as its first orbital launch attempt and the world’s first PocketQube dedicated launch.
Vector Space Systems is planning a test launch from the possible site of a future spaceport on the Georgia coast.
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a permit for Vector Space Systems to conduct a low-altitude launch on Thursday of a full-scale prototype of the company’s Vector-R launch vehicle.
The rocket will be launched from the site of a proposed spaceport, the same location in Camden County where NASA tested solid-fuel rocket engines in the 1960s.
No target altitude has been announced, but Simpson said the rocket will travel at least several thousand feet high. The trajectory will take the rocket straight up and straight down, so there are no concerns about safety to surrounding areas.
Simpson said a five-hour launch window will be available from early morning to mid afternoon, but he couldn’t give a specific time for the launch. Cloud cover, air traffic and other factors will determine when the launch is held.
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.