Featured Image Source: Momentus
Early this year, SpaceX rolled out the SmallSat Rideshare Program. A new service that allows companies to launch small satellites to space destinations for $1 million by sharing spacecraft with a larger payload during a mission. Booking an entire Falcon 9 rocket flight can cost up to $60 million, the rideshare program gives companies a much affordable option to launch small payloads into orbit.
Momentus, a company that provides transportation in space like a space taxi, selected SpaceX to launch satellites for its customers. “In the past, smallsat operators had to squeeze in alongside larger, more expensive equipment that would dictate the launch schedule. By augmenting SpaceX’s innovative ridesharing program, Momentus is saving time and money for smallsat operators to reach a given destination orbit…opening up space for a new era,” Momentus representatives stated.
Momentus purchased six rides under SpaceX’s Rideshare Program. Its upcoming mission will launch a pair of payloads atop a Falcon 9 rocket in February next year. Momentus Chief Executive Officer Mikhail Kokorich said in a statement:
“We hope to show that ride-sharing from the Falcon 9 will be a game-changer. By ferrying payloads to multiple orbits from a single launch, we multiply the capability of an already impressive system that has revolutionized access to space.”
Regarding the partnership, SpaceX’s Vice President of commercial sales, Tom Ochinero, stated:
“We are excited to continue our work with Momentus to offer small satellite operators reliable and cost-efficient rides to space.”
Falcon 9 / SpaceX
One of the payloads is owned by EnduroSat, a Bulgarian company, it is a satellite called ‘SPARTAN.’ “The Shared Platform for Applied Research and Technology Affirmation (SPARTAN) is a 6U [six unit] CubeSat that will carry a total of seven technology and commercial payloads on a single bus,” Momentus detailed in a press release this week. EnduroSat customers will have access to payload data downloaded from the CubeSat unit through an online portal – “The goal is to provide easy access to space for visionary entrepreneurs, scientists, and technologists, helping them drive innovation at the final frontier,” EnduroSat CEO Raycho Raychev said.
The other payload is Kuwait’s first nanosatellite launched into space, called ‘QMR-KWT.’ The mission is an educational initiative funded by the Kuwaiti company Orbital Space in collaboration with EnduroSat. When the satellite reaches orbit, students from around the world will write software code and beam it to the satellite’s onboard computing system –“an out-of-this-world opportunity for students to Code in Space,” Momentus said.
Falcon 9 will carry SPARTAN and QMR-KWT into orbit and a Momentus’ spacecraft ‘taxi’ called ‘Vigoride’ will propel the satellites to reach their final destination (featured image above). Vigoride will be tasked with taking the payload about 300 to 1,200 kilometers beyond where Falcon 9 will release it.