Momentus has purchased spots on no fewer than six SpaceX smallsat rideshare missions to offer precise orbital deployment at a fraction of the cost of a dedicated alternative. The missions are set to be launched aboard Falcon 9 rockets in 2020 and 2021 and will showcase the company’s Vigoride in-space transportation vehicle.
As the smallsat and microsat market continues to grow, rideshare missions that include the deployment of several small satellites are becoming more common. Although launching aboard a rideshare mission drastically reduces launch costs, it does not traditionally allow for precise orbital deployment.
Momentus hopes to use its Vigoride in-space transportation vehicle to offer last-leg in-orbit transportation services to smallsat customers. The Vigoride vehicle offers a combined payload capacity of up to 350 kilograms. Once deployed, the vehicle has the ability to move customer satellites between 300 to 1,200 kilometres away from the drop-off point.
“We hope to show that ridesharing from the Falcon 9 will be a game-changer,” said Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich. “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.”
The contract with SpaceX will see Momentus offer its services on six Falcon 9 rideshare missions, including five to Sun-Synchronous orbit and one to mid-inclined low Earth orbit. The company has revealed that several customers have already signed up for flights including Steamjet Space Systems, NuSpace, and Aurora Propulsion.