Momentus announces customers for in-space shuttle service

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Mountain View, Calif. – SteamJet Space Systems is the latest customer to sign up for Momentus’ Vigoride space transportation service.

Momentus announced plans at the SmallSat Symposium here to deploy a SteamJet cubesat on its Vigoride demonstration mission scheduled to launch later this year on a Russian Soyuz rocket. SteamJet, a United Kingdom propulsion startup founded in 2017, builds water-fueled resistojet propulsion for small satellites and cubesats.

“It’s a pleasure to be working with Momentus on launch integration and using their technology for our final orbital placement,” SteamJet CEO Pavel Savin said in a statement. “Momentus has created a fantastic efficiency-to-cost ratio. We look forward to continuing the relationship with future SteamJet satellites.”

SteamJet’s 1.5-unit cubesat will be integrated into a deployer designed to fit multiple cubesats built by Innovative Solutions in Space of the Netherlands. The deployer will then be mounted on Momentus’ Vigoride transfer vehicle, Dawn Harms, Momentus chief revenue officer, said by email.

Once in orbit, SteamJet intends to demonstrate a propulsion system that uses water or another low pressure, non-toxic, non-corrosive fluid propellant to create thrust. SteamJet houses its propulsion system in a module shaped like a tuna can that attaches to the exterior of a cubesat.

“We are excited to be a part of SteamJet’s important flight heritage,” Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich said in a statement. “Momentus and SteamJet share the goal of expanding the current mission capabilities of smallsats, enabling satellites to stay in space longer.”

Momentus launched its first 16-unit cubesat mission in 2019. The firm plans to conduct two Vigoride missions in 2020 to demonstate “in-orbit servicing maneuvers and payload deployment capabilities,” Harms said.

SteamJet and startup NuSpace of Singapore are the first two customers to announce rides on Momentus’ shuttle service, which includes launch arrangements and transfer from the rocket’s drop-off point to another orbit. Momentus plans to begin offering quarterly shuttles to sun-synchronous and mid-inclination in 2021, according to its website.

In total, Momentus has five customers lined up for shuttle flights in 2020 and 2021. Five more customers, including Deimos and Exolaunch, have signed up for Momentus charter flights to destinations not served by shuttle flights.

Singapore startups NuSpace and Aliena plan to send their joint NuX-1 demonstration satellite on Momentus’ Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle after it launches in early 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

NuX-1 is a mission designed to demonstrate autonomous orbit control maneuvers with Aliena’s miniature Hall-thruster and NuSpace’s attitude determination and control system. The NuX-1 triple cubesat also will house an an Internet-of-Things (IoT) payload for NuSpace, which plans to establish an IoT constellation.

Momentus won a U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to accelerate work on in-space transportation services and satellite upper stage technologies. Momentus did not reveal the value of the SBIR contract awarded through a streamlined SBIR process developed by the Air Force Research Lab and AFWERX, an Air Force organization focused on innovation.