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 Back in Business with New Owners, Focus & Tech

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)

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. SpaceNews reports:

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.

DARPA Launch Challenge Nears End with Modified Rules, One Competitor

The DARPA Launch Challenge is nearing its end with modified rules and only one of three finalists left standing to win $12 million in prize money.

Astra Space will attempt to conduct two launches within days of each other from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island. The launches will take place from different pads at the spaceport and place satellites into different sun-synchronous trajectories.

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Astra Emerges From Stealth, Shooting for $1 Million Per Launch

Astra Introduction Video from Chris Kemp on Vimeo.

Ashlee Vance also has a story at Bloomberg:

https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-astra-rocket/

Some interesting tidbits:

  • Astra’s next launch is scheduled for Feb. 21 from Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island;
  • previous two launches suffered in-flight failures;
  • payload will be up to 450 lb (204 kg) to low Earth orbit;
  • launch cost is $2.5 million, but Astra is working toward $1 million;
  • the company is using aluminum and simplified engines to keep costs down;
  • Astra has a staff of 150 people;
  • Former NASA Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Chris Kemp is CEO;
  • Astra’s CTO and co-founder is Adam London, who spent 12 years running Ventions;
  • The company has raised more than $100 million from investors;
  • Astra is the last of three companies standing in the DARPA Launch Challenge, under which it must launch twice from different locations in two weeks to win $12 million; and,
  • Other competitors included Vector Space, which has filed for bankruptcy, and Virgin Origin, which decided to pull out.

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.

USAF Awards Launch Contract Formerly Held by Vector to Aveum

Aveum rocket launching drome. (Credit: Aveum)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) office, part of the Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise, awarded a $4.9 million contract to Aevum, Inc. today for the Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer (ASLON)-45 space lift mission via RSLP’s Small Rocket Program-Orbital (SRP-O) framework. 

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Vector Announces “Pause” in Operations Due to Change in Financing

August 9, 2019

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.

Vector Launch

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 Names Blue Origin Veteran as CFO

Stephanie Koster

TUCSON (Vector PR) — Vector, the space access company, today announced Stephanie Koster will join the team as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Koster brings more than 20 years of extensive experience in domestic and international strategy, finance, and operations across several Fortune 50 and high growth aerospace companies. As CFO, Koster will lead finance and business operations to enable Vector’s dynamic growth.

“As we look to our future and transition from a period of development into full operations, we needed someone to guide us through this exciting time,” said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector. “Stephanie’s proven experience in finance, growth, and strategy for some of the world’s largest aerospace companies makes her well-suited to help us achieve our aggressive business goals.”

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Virgin Orbit, Vector and Mystery Stealth Company Qualify for DARPA Launch Challenge

Credit: DARPA

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — The DARPA Launch Challenge aims to fundamentally shift military space capabilities to enable on-demand, flexible, and responsive launch of small payloads. Three competitors successfully completed the qualification phase and will attempt to launch to low-Earth orbit from two different U.S. locations within a matter of weeks. Teams will receive notice of the first launch site a few weeks prior to launch and exact details on the payload and intended orbit just days before launch. DARPA is targeting both launches for early 2020.

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Vector’s GalacticSky GSky-1 Satellite Ready for Launch Later This Year

GalacticSky GSky-1 satellite.(Credit: Vector)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Vector PR) Vector, the space access company, today announced its GalacticSky division, which has been in stealth mode since 2016. Led by veterans from VMWare and Citrix, as well as satellite innovators, GalacticSky has achieved a major milestone on its path to launch its first GalacticSky software-defined satellite, GSky-1.

GSky-1 successfully completed integration at the University of Southern California’s Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and will validate GalacticSky’s mission to enable innovators to easily and effectively deploy space application technology in space.

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Will Alcântara Finally Stop Being the Spaceport of the Future?

Cyclone 4 launch pad under construction. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Brazil’s decades-long effort to launch satellites from its underused Alcântara Launch Center could finally be bearing fruit.

On Monday, Brazil and the United States signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will allow American companies to launch orbital rockets from Alcântara.
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Vector Announces Dedicated Nanosat Launch For Hiber

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.

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Vector Signs Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with U.S. Air Force

TUCSON, Ariz. (Vector PR)  – Vector today announced it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Air Force Space Command and Missile Systems Center’s Space Superiority Directorate. In addition to its nearly three-year partnership with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the CRADA with the Air Force highlights Vector’s continued efforts to develop critical technologies with the U.S Department of Defense.

Located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo Calif., the Space Missile Systems Center will engage in collaborative research and development activities relating to Vector’s launch services and the Air Force’s technology and mission needs. The CRADA is effective for one year and includes provisions for protecting information by both the Air Force and Vector.

Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), a subordinate unit of Air Force Space Command, is the center of technical excellence for developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining military space systems. SMC’s mission is to deliver resilient and affordable space capabilities. The center is responsible for on-orbit check-out, testing, sustainment and maintenance of military satellite constellations and other Department of Defense space systems.

About Vector:

Created by the original founding team of SpaceX, Vector connects space startups and innovators with dedicated launch services and enabling platforms to access space more efficiently than ever before. Vector is proud to design, build and launch its vehicles and enabling platforms in the United States of America. For more information, please visit http://www.vector-launch.com











Vector Raises $70 Million Series Be Funding Round

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)

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.

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