SHERPA Payload Pod Secures First Launch

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Hosted payload broker Spaceflight Inc., Seattle, said it secured a launch for its first SHERPA space tug, which will deploy up to 1,200 kilograms of customer satellite payloads into low Earth orbit in the second half of 2015 following launch by an undisclosed rocket.

The maiden SHERPA mission will deliver spacecraft to a sun synchronous orbit, the company wrote in an April 30 press release. A sun synchronous orbit suits several types of Earth-observing satellites; spacecraft in such an orbit observe the planet in roughly the same lighting conditions each day.

Subsequent SHERPA missions will target other orbits, according to the release. The first of these, according to the company, will be in 2016 to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

“Starting in 2016 we plan to offer two SHERPA rideshare missions each year, with one mission to low Earth orbit and the other to GTO,” Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight Inc., said in the press release. “We are well along in finalizing these launch opportunities and customer manifest.”