Momentus Vigoride tug
Momentus announced May 5 it received its final regulatory approval, an FAA payload review, for the launch of its first Vigoride tug later this month. Credit: Momentus

WASHINGTON — Momentus has deployed additional satellites from its first space tug that encountered technical problems shortly after its launch in May and is moving forward with a second launch later this year.

The company said Aug. 2 that it deployed four satellites from the Vigoride-3 tug in July, in addition to two that were deployed three days after its launch May 25 on the SpaceX Transporter-5 rideshare mission. A seventh satellite, Bronco-Sat 1, was deployed from a second port on the Transporter-5 launch.

All six of the satellites deployed from Vigoride-3 were “PocketQube” satellites, five centimeters on a side, from FOSSA Systems, a Spanish company developing an internet-of-things constellation. The company had seven such satellites on the tug. The tug also carried an eighth PocketQube from an undisclosed customer as well as SelfieSat, a two-unit cubesat developed by Orbit NTNU, a Norwegian student space organization.

Vigoride-3 was primarily a demonstration mission of the company’s orbital transfer vehicle technology. However, the spacecraft suffered problems after launch that included communications issues and solar arrays that did not deploy properly after launch. The company said in mid-June that its confidence Vigoride-3 could complete its mission “has substantially declined” but had not provided any additional updates until the Aug. 2 statement.

Momentus said its engineers had identified the root cause of the anomalies with Vigoride-3 but did not disclose details about the problem. An independent review team agreed with the conclusions of the company’s engineers.

“We have completed our own internal reviews and welcomed an independent review team that conducted a comprehensive assessment of our first mission,” John Rood, chief executive of Momentus, said in the statement. “We learned a lot from our first Vigoride demonstration mission already and intend to learn everything we can before the mission is over.”

He said the company is moving ahead with its next vehicle, Vigoride-5, scheduled to launch on SpaceX’s Transporter-6 mission in November. Rood said the company is “intently focused” on incorporating corrective actions on that vehicle in time for the launch.

Shares in Momentus closed up 11.3% in trading Aug. 2 after the company announcement but are still near a 52-week low.

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...