After the SpaceX rideshare, BlackSky has another four satellites booked to launch on India’s new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle this year, though delays with that program have made a launch date unclear, Merski said.
Intelsat is asking its bankruptcy court for authorization to modify a $50 million loan to Spaceflight Industries’ Earth-observation business BlackSky that could become a snag in Spaceflight’s sale of its launch rideshare business.
A study that found that every small satellite launched commercially in the last five years suffered delays is evidence of the need of greater standardization in payload accommodations so that smallsats can easily switch vehicles, one company argues.
Spaceflight Industries’ decision to sell its rideshare launch services company, Spaceflight, to two Japanese firms will benefit both Spaceflight and its parent company, executives of the two companies say.
Spaceflight Industries announced Feb. 11 it will sell its smallsat rideshare launch business to a pair of Japanese companies, allowing it to focus on its BlackSky geospatial business.
SpaceX disclosed new details about its small satellite rideshare efforts Feb. 5 as it, and other programs like it by large launch vehicle operators, put new pricing pressure on small launch vehicle companies.
The launch vehicle market is changing rapidly as satellites of various sizes seek transportation to both traditional and nontraditional orbits.
Spaceflight announced Aug. 6 that it will purchase the first commercial launch a new Indian vehicle scheduled to make its debut later this year.
Startups in the burgeoning small launch vehicle market acknowledge that only a handful of vehicles will survive a likely shakeout, driven more by commercial rather than government demand.
Small launch vehicle developer Relativity announced May 6 it has signed an agreement with Spaceflight for a series of smallsat rideshare launches.
Cloud Constellation CEO Cliff Beek said LeoStella, a joint venture of Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries, beat Northrop Grumman on price, among other factors.
After placing more than 60 satellites into orbit on a single Falcon 9 last year, Spaceflight says it will focus on launching smaller numbers of satellites at a time on more launches this year.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying an Indonesian communications satellite, an Israeli lunar lander and a U.S. Air Force smallsat launched Feb. 21 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
As LeoStella inaugurated the factory that will be used to produce a series of Earth imaging satellites, the joint venture of Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries continues to look for other customers.
Developers of small launch vehicles, who have promoted their vehicles as providing dedicated access to space for small satellites, say they’re also open to flying rideshare missions as they face competition from larger rockets.
A pair of new deals shows that, despite the growing number of small launch vehicles under development, demand from smallsat developers for rideshares on larger vehicles remains high.
The new launch date, announced Dec. 7 by customer Iridium Communications, was driven by the additional two weeks SpaceX ended up needing to launch Spaceflight Industries’ “SmallSat Express” dedicated rideshare mission.
As SpaceX prepares to launch a Falcon 9 carrying dozens of small satellites, some experts are worried that it will be difficult to track and identify the satellites once in orbit.