WASHINGTON — Exotrail announced March 6 it has successfully deployed a satellite from its first spacevan orbital transfer vehicle.

The company said it deployed the 8U cubesat, called EXO-0 and built by Endurosat, from its spacevan-001 orbital transfer vehicle Feb. 28. That tug had been in orbit since a launch in November on SpaceX’s Transporter-9 rideshare mission into sun-synchronous orbit.

Exotrail, a French startup that initially focused on satellite propulsion and software, developed spacevan to provide “last mile” delivery services, enabling customers to take advantage of low-cost rideshare launch opportunities. Exotrail is one of several companies developing or operating such tugs.

“Today is an historic moment for Exotrail, as this achievement marks a new leap towards becoming a worldwide space logistics leader,” Jean-Luc Maria, chief executive of Exotrail, said in a statement. “The spacevan-001 mission has showcased our capacities to deliver for our customers, and we have certainly learned a lot on the journey.”

The deployment took place after extensive testing of spacevan after its November launch. “We wanted complete control, with full functionality of the satellite before the drop,” company spokesperson Léna Montès told SpaceNews. “This is a new platform, requiring LEOP [launch and early operations phase] to be done step by step.”

The EXO-0 satellite carries a payload for Airbus Defence and Space. A “passive detumbler” device developed by Airbus uses a central rotor wheel and magnets to damp out tumbling if the spacecraft loses attitude control. Airbus envisions using the technology on future satellites to make it easier for them to be grappled by active debris removal missions after the end of their lives.

Exotrail plans to continue operating spacevan-001. That includes testing of the spacecraft itself as well as a hosted payload from Veoware, a Belgian startup developing control moment gyros and reaction wheels.

In addition to satellite deployments in low Earth orbit, Exotrail is developing a version of its tug to enable smallsats to go to geostationary orbit. The company expects a first launch of that vehicle as soon as 2026.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...