Diagram shows Momentus' shuttle operations for the deployment of two satellites into orbit. Credit: Momentus

SAN FRANCISCO – 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, the Santa Clara, California, company announced March 9.

“We hope to show that ridesharing from the Falcon 9 will be a game-changer,” Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich said in a statement. “By ferrying payloads to multiple orbits from a single launch, we multiply the capability of an already impressive system that has revolutionized access to space.”

Prior to the launches, Momentus will mount multiple customer satellites weighing a total of 350 kilograms or less on Vigoride space transportation vehicles. After separation with the Falcon 9, Vigorides will deliver each satellite to its intended orbit and altitude, company officials said.

“We are excited to continue our work with Momentus to offer small satellite operators reliable and cost-efficient rides to space,” Tom Ochinero, SpaceX vice president of commercial sales, said in a statement.

Momentus Vigoride shuttle with 32 three-unit cubesats and two micro satellites attached. Credit Momentus

Momentus offers two services. Shuttle flights from rocket drop-off points to popular destinations and charter flights for customers whose intended destinations are not served by shuttle flights.

Momentus plans to offer Vigoride service on quarterly launches in 2021. More than a dozen customers are currently booked across the various missions, Dawn Harms, Momentus chief revenue officer, said by email.

Many customers are looking to Vigoride to offer last-mile delivery for cubesats but Momentus is serving microsatellite customers as well, Harms said. “We will continue to add customers until six months before launch,” she added.

Customers already signed up for the 2020 and 2021 Vigoride shuttle flights include U.K. startup Steamjet Space Systems, NuSpace of Singapore and Aurora Propulsion Technologies of Finland.

Additional customers have signed up for Momentus charter flights from the Falcon 9 drop-off to other destinations. Charter customers include C3S Electronics Development of Hungary and Spacemanic of Slovakia, a spinoff of the Slovak Organisation for Space Activities, a nongovernmental group that promotes space research and technology.

Initially, Momentus advertised Vigoride payload capacity of 250 kilograms. Since then, Vigoride payload capacity is now as high as 350 kilograms because the vehicle was redesigned to fit ESPA Grande Ports.

ESPA is the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter. ESPA Grande is a version of the payload adapter to accommodate larger, heavier satellites.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...