Launcher selects SpaceX for multiple launches of orbit transfer services

Launcher, an industry-leading developer of highly efficient rockets and transfer vehicles, has signed a new multi-launch contract with SpaceX. The agreement adds three new missions to the expanding flight manifest of Orbiter, Launcher’s transfer vehicle.

This addition of rideshare flights builds upon the first mission of Orbiter (SN1), scheduled to reach orbit no earlier than October 2022 on SpaceX’s Transporter-6 and shows the expanding demand for commercial and government orbit transfer services.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rideshare Lift off (Photo Courtesy of SpaceX).

As part of the agreement, Orbiter will launch on three SpaceX rideshare missions in 2023 to Sun-synchronous (SSO) orbit, referred to as Transporter missions. The contract also allows for Launcher to book additional SSO and mid-inclination rideshare flights as needed.

“We have chosen SpaceX to be our provider in 2023 and beyond, due to their incredible reliability, performance, industry-leading price, and mission flexibility, which allows us to provide the lowest-cost Orbiter mission services to our customers,”

stated Launcher CEO Max Haot.

Launcher Orbiter deploying customer spacecraft. Credits: Launcher.

‍On SpaceX’s Transporter flights, Orbiter can carry up to 400 kg of payload mass in the form of small and cube satellites. Additionally, Orbiter can support components and payloads by providing power, communications, and other commodities. Orbiter is equipped with a chemical propulsion system that uses ethane and nitrous oxide propellants, and the vehicle will initially provide up to 500 meters per second of delta-v, or change in velocity. Orbiter is designed to integrate with SpaceX’s 24-inch rideshare ports and maximize the available volume to its customer payload.

Due to in-house design and production of the majority of the structure, propulsion, and avionics components, Orbiter is offered to its customers at an industry-leading price of $400,000 per dedicated vehicle (excluding SpaceX flight cost). Launch and orbit transfer services are also offered to Orbiter rideshare customers at a per kilogram price of $8,000-$25,000 (including SpaceX flight cost), depending on the mission requirements.

Launcher Orbiter performing propulsive maneuvers. Credits: Launcher.

Orbiter provides unique value to its customers by allowing them to quickly reach nearby rideshare orbits and precisely insert each spacecraft into its proper mission orbit in the most efficient way possible. The delta-v provided by Orbiter can be used to adjust altitude, inclination, and LTDN (Local Time of Descending Node) as well as local anomaly tailoring to quickly and evenly distribute small spacecraft along an entire orbital plane. Given the low additional cost for Orbiter above the SpaceX rideshare price, delta-v can be imparted to each customer spacecraft at a lower cost than implementing or expanding spacecraft resident propulsion systems. This lowers the overall capital cost of each spacecraft and extends their lifetime by maximizing the propellant remaining after reaching its proper mission orbit.

When Orbiter completes its transfer mission, the platform continues to host components and payloads for up to two years. This enables both early-stage and mature space companies to increase the heritage and technology readiness of their payload or components without the added cost of a dedicated spacecraft and ground operations infrastructure. Using the shared resources available from Orbiter, these services are provided in a more efficient manner.

The roadmap of Orbiter progresses to an orbital servicing platform that will be able to service and fuel spacecraft or remove orbital debris. Additionally, higher capacity propulsion upgrades will allow transfer to higher earth orbits (e.g. GEO) and lunar transfer. At the conclusion of each mission, Orbiter performs a controlled reentry or transfer to a graveyard orbit.

Below is a summary of the Orbiter’s current flight manifest:

Mission and Launch Date

Orbiter SN1 NET October , 2022 (Previously Contracted)
Orbiter SN2 NET January , 2023 (New Contract)
Orbiter SN3 NET April , 2023 (New Contract)
Orbiter SN4 NET October , 2023 (New Contract)‍

About Launcher

Founded in 2017, Launcher develops the world’s most efficient rockets and transfer vehicles to deliver small satellites to orbit. Orbiter – our orbital transfer vehicle and satellite platform, uniquely compatible with rideshare launch vehicles. With Orbiter, Launcher is offering rideshare launch services to tailored orbits that better meet a spacecraft customer’s mission needs.

Courtesy of Launcher

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