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Rogue Space hires sustainability expert to advocate for startup-friendly policies

Daniel Porras will be Rogue’s director of space sustainability policy
Rendering of Rogue Space Systems Orbital Robot. Credit: Rogue Space Systems

WASHINGTON — Daniel Porras, a former executive at the Secure World Foundation, has joined Rogue Space, a startup developing small satellites for in-orbit services.

Porras will be Rogue’s director of space sustainability policy and advocate for standards and best practices from the standpoint of small businesses, the company said Jan. 9. “Rogue believes that space activities should be conducted in a safe, sustainable and commercially viable manner,” CEO  Jeromy Grimmett said in a statement. 

Based in Laconia, New Hampshire, Rogue is seeking venture funding to build out a fleet of satellite-servicing and debris-removal smallsats for commercial and government customers. The company is one of dozens of small businesses that won research contracts from the U.S. Space Force’s SpaceWERX organization for a program known as Orbital PrimeRogue said its SBIR awards for Orbital Prime are collectively worth $2.75 million. The company also signed a partnership with defense contractor SAIC to build space-servicing and surveillance satellites. 

Porras told SpaceNews that the in-space servicing industry is challenged by unclear norms and standards and that startups should have a seat at the table when policies are being decided. 

“We need to find better ways to regulate how we handle these novel space activities,” he said. “There are a lot of UN discussions, multilateral dialogues, regional dialogues going on about what should be the best practices for space activities” and meanwhile startups are trying to test and demonstrate technologies. 

Grimmett said it’s “important for startups’ voices to be heard with respect to policy and ensure there’s an ongoing dialogue between the people who are coming up with the rules and the people who are actually having to use the rules.”

The regulatory environment regarding in-space activities is challenging for everyone but especially for small businesses and startups, said Chris Hearsey, head of government and regulatory affairs at Rogue. 

“What we’re concerned about is shared by many other startups in this space, he said. “Because we are engaging in such new and novel space activities. Playing within this new economy is very challenging, from  regulations to standards to just be able to get the business up and running.”

Rogue is planning to launch three cubesats this year to demonstrate satellite-inspection, rendezvous and proximity technologies for the Orbital Prime program. The cubesats are scheduled to launch later this year on SpaceX’s Transporter-8 and Transporter-9 rideshares. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly...