Momentus signs up Taiwanese customer for Vigoride flight

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This article was updated on April 2 at noon Eastern time to correct Odysseus Space’s role in the project.

SAN FRANCISCO – Momentus, a Silicon Valley in-space transportation startup, announced a launch service agreement April 1 with Odysseus Space, a satellite applications startup based in Taiwan.

Under the agreement, Momentus will provide in-space transportation for a satellite mission called Intelligent Remote-Sensing and Internet Satellite (IRIS)-A. Odysseus is providing pre-launch testing and arranging launch services for the IRIS-A mission developed by Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University. IRIS-A is designed to test technology to improve the quality of downlink signals.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, Momentus executives say they are continuing to sign up customers interested in traveling on Vigoride, a vehicle to move small satellites from their drop-off point in orbit to their final destination.

“We have more customers than before the crisis,” Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich told SpaceNews. “We think it’s because our offering is appealing and it makes flights very cheap.”

National Cheng Kung University plans to conduct a series of three IRIS missions to test technologies for Earth observation and internet-of-things constellations. Odysseus plans to fly IRIS-A on Momentus’ June 2021 Vigoride mission.

Julien Hennequin, Odysseus Space managing director, said in a statement the firm is pleased to support National Cheng Kung University and “enthusiastic to partner with Momentus.”

Prior to the pandemic, Momentus worked to expand its presence in Asia, which has led to “a surge in customers interest” in the region, said Negar Feher, Momentus vice president of product and business development.

At Momentus headquarters in Santa Clara, California, sales and business development personnel work from home. On March 31, Santa Clara County like neighboring counties in the San Francisco Bay Area extended the order for people to stay home until May 3 to limid the spread of COVID-19. Within Momentus’ facility, satellite manufacturing remains on schedule as workers split into two shifts to maintain enough distance from one another to comply with health and safety rules, Feher said.

In addition to its spaceflight hardware, Momentus began producing face shields in late March for first responder in Santa Clara County. The company is expecting delivery of raw materials for additional face shields any day. Once the materials arrive, engineer could produce “100 pieces a week or maybe more,” Kokorich said. Other local businesses are following suit with the goal of producing thousands of face shields in all, he added.

Momentus plans to conduct the Vigoride demonstration mission in late 2020. Momentus raised $25.5 million in 2019 in a Series A funding round.