Launch service provider prepares its Sherpa-LTE1 for launch, the industry’s first-ever electric propulsion OTV
SEATTLE – May 11, 2021 — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, announced today it will be launching 36 customer payloads to Sun Synchronous orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than June 2021. The company purchased three ports on the mission, dubbed ‘SXRS-5’ by Spaceflight, and is managing the launch integration and mission management services for 36 payloads, including six microsatellites, 29 cubesats and one hosted payload. The mission also represents the first time the company will fly two different orbital transportation vehicles (OTVs) and the launch of the industry’s first-ever electric propulsion vehicle, Sherpa-LTE1.
Spaceflight is managing the launch for 14 organizations’ spacecraft from seven countries, including:
- Aerospacelab’s Arthur
- Astrocast’s IoT Nanosatellites
- HawkEye 360 Inc.’s HawkEye Cluster 3
- In-Space Missions Limited’s Faraday Phoenix
- Kleos Space’s Polar Vigilance Mission cluster of four satellites
- Loft Orbital’s YAM-2
- Lynk Global Inc.’s Shannon
- NearSpace Launch Inc.’s TagSat-2
- OQ Technology’s TIGER-2 5G IoT
- Orbit Fab’s Tanker-001 Tenzing
- Orbital Sidekick Inc.’s Aurora
- Spire Global’s LEMUR-2
- Swarm Technologies’ SpaceBEES
- An undisclosed spacecraft
“This mission represents a significant milestone for Spaceflight’s next-gen OTV program and doubles down on our commitment to offer the most solutions to meet our customer’s needs for reaching unique orbital destinations,” said Tony Frego, mission director for Spaceflight’s SXRS-5 mission. “We knew we needed to utilize two Sherpa OTVs to support the customer demand, and saw a unique opportunity to fly Sherpa-LTE for the first time. After all customer deployments are complete, we’ll run a series of maneuver tests with the electric propulsion OTV which will provide valuable insights before Sherpa-LTC, our chemical propulsion OTV, launches later this year.”
Spaceflight’s first next-gen OTV, Sherpa-FX1 debuted in January and successfully deployed 15 spacecraft from SpaceX’s Transporter-1 launch. The Transporter-2 mission will feature another Sherpa-FX (Sherpa-FX2), as well as debut Sherpa-LTE (Sherpa-LTE1) which features electric propulsion from Apollo Fusion. Spaceflight’s Sherpa-LTC, which features chemical propulsion from Benchmark Space Systems, will fly on another SpaceX mission later this year.
“Flying three different Sherpa OTVs in a matter of months is quite an undertaking and achievement for our team and partners,” added Philip Bracken, vice president of engineering at Spaceflight. “We intentionally created a modular next-gen Sherpa OTV product line with expandable capabilities to offer unmatched flexibility for our customers today, and well into the future. We’ve also applied our learnings from earlier missions to our custom-built avionics system, R2A, to provide higher fidelity data utilizing direct space-to-ground networks. Having command and control of individual spacecraft separations at our fingertips reduces risk and provides greater mission assurance to our customers.”
Sherpa-LTE1 incorporates high Isp, Xenon propellant electric propulsion from Apollo Fusion to facilitate efficient maneuvering needed for orbital altitude and inclination changes. The vehicle provides a low-cost alternative to purchasing full direct-inject launch vehicles and extends the ability of small launch vehicles that are currently under development to reach beyond low-Earth orbit.
Spaceflight is preparing several more Sherpa OTV missions later this year along with many traditional rideshare and dedicated missions, for a total of approximately 10 launches in 2021. Celebrating 10 years of providing innovative launch services, Spaceflight has launched nearly 350 satellites across 39 missions on eight different launch vehicles, including the Falcon 9, Electron, PSLV, and Vega. It has orchestrated several industry firsts including the first fully-dedicated rideshare with 64 smallsats aboard the historic SSO-A mission, the first-ever rideshare mission to GTO with a lunar lander and now the launch of the first-ever electric propulsive OTV.
About Spaceflight Inc.
As the premier global launch services provider, Spaceflight is revolutionizing the business of space transportation through its comprehensive suite of launch services and Sherpa® orbital transfer vehicles. The company provides unprecedented launch flexibility to ensure customers’ smallsats get to orbit exactly when and where they want through a combination of long-standing relationships with a diverse portfolio of launch partners, innovative satellite integration capabilities, including flight and ground support hardware, licensing and logistics management, and extensive mission management expertise. Based in Seattle, Spaceflight has successfully launched hundreds of satellites and is a part of the Mitsui & Co., Ltd. portfolio, operating as an independent, U.S.-based company. For more information, visit https://spaceflight.com.
Christie Melby, Communiqué PR