Vector Space Systems, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today announced that NASA has selected its Phase II proposal under the 2015 SBIR/STTR program to continue development of an advanced prototype of the upper stage for the Vector-R launch vehicle.  The contract, proposed through Vector’s acquired Garvey Spacecraft Corporation subsidiary, complements an earlier SBIR award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that addresses the use of the Vector-R first stage as a second stage for the XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane.  In conjunction with the awarded contracts, totaling approximately $2.5M, Vector is investing in related infrastructure and range site preparations to enable high performance flight testing by the fourth quarter of 2017.

Under this NASA Phase II STTR project, the Vector team is finishing the design and will then transition into assembly, integration and checkout of a full-scale prototype of the Vector-R upper stage engine. Vector will then integrate this stage with a prototype first stage engine, gained from a contract with DARPA, to create a fully functional two-stage flight test vehicle.  The team members include academic partner University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC).  The AAC hosted precursor ground operation pathfinder tests at its launch facility on Kodiak Island during Phase I that validated the feasibility of this site for the upcoming high performance mission.

“In just a few short months, Vector has made tremendous strides toward developing a micro satellite launch vehicle to support entrepreneurs and early stage startups. And while this achievement is instrumental for Vector, it’s an even more critical benchmark of success for the future of the market, demonstrating the federal government’s commitment to small space exploration,” said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector Space Systems. “Vector has already received four development contract awards, providing extensive synergism with the Vector’s core investment-funded research and development program. Coming on the heels of our first customer contract win with Iceye, these agreements position Vector to lead the micro satellite industry into the next stage of exploration.”

The Vector-R launch vehicle is the world’s only launch vehicle dedicated to servicing the micro satellite market by providing a dedicated 50kg launch mass to orbit.  The Vector-R is an advanced vehicle made of an all carbon fiber airframe, lightweight pressurized propulsion systems and an agile modern avionics system. Appropriately sized for today’s rapidly growing micro satellite market, the Vector-R launch vehicle will host frequent flights and a range of independence made possible through its unique capacity and mobile launch operations.  Vector-R will become fully operational by 2018 and is accepting reservations on its rapidly expanding payload manifest. For more information on flight reservations please visit:

About Vector Space Systems 

Vector Space Systems is a disruptive space innovator that connects space startups with affordable and reliable launch enabling platforms and vehicles at a cost point never before possible for accessing space. For more information, visit