Featured Image Source: Loft Orbital
Germany-based Exolaunch manages missions for companies that want to deploy microsatellites. Exolaunch offers payload integration services for its customers, and selected SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program to deploy its customers' satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The program allows companies to book a Falcon 9 online to launch small satellites to space destinations for $1 million, by sharing the rocket with a larger payload during a mission. Booking an entire rocket flight can cost up to $60 million. The Rideshare program gives companies a much affordable option to launch small payloads into orbit -priced at $1 million for 200 kilograms (kg) “with additional mass at $5k/kg,” SpaceX’s website details.
Exolaunch Commercial Director Jeanne Medvedeva told reporters in April:
“Participation in SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will allow Exolaunch to offer reliable and cost-efficient rideshare options out of the United States. Most of our customers have been proactively requesting such opportunities.”
Exolaunch announced a deal to launch 2 microsatellites for Loft Orbital, a San Francisco startup that aims to fly payloads for customers. The mission is scheduled for December this year. Medvedeva said in a statement this week:
“Loft Orbital’s unique service of aggregating multiple payloads on their satellites addresses the industry’s acute demand for reduced complexity and costs.”
The satellite that will be deployed is Loft Orbital’s YAM-3 satellite, manufactured by LeoStella, a Seattle-based joint venture of Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries. Loft Orbital’s YAM-3 satellite is a square-shape craft that can carry payload inside. It features a safe environment for customers that would like to send a payload to conduct science experiments in space. YAM-3 also has a data and positioning system. “Our interface technology, the Payload Hub, can accommodate all payload and mission types, and remains satellite bus agnostic,” Loft Orbital stated.
We are proud to win @LoftOrbital as a customer and look forward to launching YAM-3 on @SpaceX Falcon 9!— EXOLAUNCH (@EXOLAUNCH) June 11, 2020
YAM-3 will be deployed from a Falcon 9 ESPA port with #CarboNIX, Exolaunch’s shock-free lightweight separation system.https://t.co/oWlN6gu4UY
YAM-3 will be integrated by Exolaunch atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Exolaunch engineers designed a special "shock-free" adapter for its customers called “Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter port with CarboNIX.” Loft Orbital’s co-CEO, Pierre-Damien Vaujour, said in a statement:
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Exolaunch for YAM-3’s launch. We’re looking forward to a long-term partnership with their team.”
Exolaunch aims to demonstrate how its multi-port adapter for microsatellites and CubeSats works during the rideshare mission.
SpaceX will deploy multiple Exolaunch customers' satellites into sun-synchronous orbit in the future. “We’re accommodating several microsatellites below 100 kilograms and a cluster of CubeSats,” Medvedeva stated. “These are European and U.S. small sats [satellites] coming from our existing and new customers.” Exolaunch plans to send another Loft Orbital satellite to space on a SpaceX Rideshare mission scheduled for 2021.