SAN FRANCISCO – In-space transportation startup Momentus announced plans Aug. 3 to begin flying hosted payloads for customers in 2021.
The Santa Clara, California, company plans to offer space for technology demonstrations, qualification missions and short-term demonstrations in its Vigoride transfer vehicle. The hosted payload experiments can be conducted in the Vigoride transfer vehicle after it finishes its primary job of moving customer payloads from the point in orbit where their rocket drops them off to their ultimate destination and prior to Vigoride re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Momentus will offer hosted payload customers access to analytics and in-space demonstrations “at a fraction of the cost of designing, building, launching and operating a dedicated” small satellite, the company said in an Aug. 3 news release.
Momentus plans to offer charter and shuttle service models for hosted payload customers. Charter customers can claim the vehicle’s entire power and data downlink capacity for the maximum lifespan of the Vigoride transfer vehicle. In the shuttle service model, customers will share on-board resources with other payloads being hosted or deployed from the Vigoride transfer vehicle.
Through the new hosted payload service, Momentus is offering what it calls a “white glove” service. Customers will only be responsible for supplying the payload, according to the news release.
A research institute, for example, could test “new solar cell technologies, large unfurlable antennas and payloads requiring up to 1 kilowatt of power or up to 300 kilograms of mass without having to worry about building their own satellite or operating it on orbit,” according to the news release.
Momentus purchased rides on five SpaceX Falcon 9 SmallSat rideshare missions in 2020 and 2021 to showcase the ability of its Vigoride in-space transportation vehicle to move customer satellites 300 to 1,200 kilometers beyond the drop-off point.