ORLANDO, Fla. — Exotrail, a French company that specializes in space mobility solutions for small satellites, announced plans to introduce a new orbital vehicle aimed at small satellites that need to transit from geostationary transfer orbit to their final destination. 

The company in November launched its first payload hosting vehicle, called SpaceVan, to low Earth orbit. The geostationary (GEO) version of the vehicle is projected to launch in 2026, Sébastien Duménil, Exotrail’s chief commercial officer, said Jan. 30.

Exotrail officials spoke with SpaceNews at the Space Mobility Conference, an event hosted by the U.S. Space Systems Command. 

“The Space Force needs options for in-space mobility,” said Duménil. He added that Exotrail is eyeing military customers for its GEO satellite deployer. The transfer vehicle would be dropped off by a rocket in a geostationary transfer vehicle and carry small satellites to their intended location, he said, reducing the need to use the spacecraft’s own propulsion and saving fuel for more critical maneuvers. 

Expanding U.S. presence

Exotrail announced last year it created two U.S. subsidiaries in an effort to serve the U.S. commercial and government markets.

“We’re talking to companies that support U.S. defense missions,” said Brian Holt, Exotrail’s director of U.S. government business development and partnerships.

“Mobility in GEO is one of the biggest demands we hear from the DoD,” Holt said. 

The platform is “tailored to meet the specific needs of small satellites transiting from GTO to GEO, serving notably the specific requirements of the U.S. Space Force and other DoD agencies,” Duménil said. 

The GEO SpaceVan is designed to deliver up to 150 kilograms to GEO from GTO in less than six months, the company said. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...