Momentus to Deliver 3U Nanosatellites in 2021

Momentus (www.momentus.space), provider of in-space transportation services for satellites, today announced a launch service agreement with Singapore-based companies, NuSpace and Aliena. Momentus’ Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle will carry the NuX-1 3U nanosatellite to its final orbit, after launching onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg, California during the first quarter of 2021.

NuX-1 will demonstrate autonomous orbit control maneuvers using Aliena’s ultra-low power miniature Hall-thruster. This is a first for CubeSats of that size. It will use NuSpace’s Attitude Determination and Control Systems (ADCS) for autonomous orbit control system. The nanosatellite will also carry an Internet-of-Things (IoT) payload for NuSpace and constitute the pathfinder for NuSpace’s planned IoT constellation.

The solution offered by Momentus provides orbit phasing for constellations that are launched from a single rocket. It reduces the propulsion requirements on satellites and reduces the amount of propellant, weight and cost of each satellite.

Momentus provides an accelerated way to rapidly populate and operationalize constellation services while reducing fuel requirements onboard miniature platforms.

Momentus raised $40M of equity funding, including a $25.5MM Series A in 2019. Momentus was incubated at YCombinator. Momentus employs new and proprietary technologies, including water plasma propulsion to enable revolutionary and affordable orbital shuttle services. A 16U demonstration mission, called El Camino Real, was launched and tested in 2019. Two demo missions of the Vigoride transfer vehicle will fly in 2020, paving the way for quarterly commercial missions from 2021 onward.

NuSpace and Aliena are spin-offs from research done respectively by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Together, they aim to address the upcoming demand for large smallsat constellations, providing an integrated smallsat solution that is able to perform autonomous orbit maintenance. NuSpace plans to roll out an IoT constellation of nanosatellites covering the equatorial belt first, before expanding to global coverage. Aliena will provide turn-key, compact and low power electric propulsion solutions for small and nano satellites that serve a plethora of services and applications.

Nextbigfuture Interviewed Momentus in Mid-2019

Here is one-page summary of Momentus technology.

Efficiently Moving Satellites From Lower to Higher Orbits and to the Moon from Orbit

• Constellations of satellites are needed for applications such as remote sensing, internet from space or weather observation. However, these constellations require satellites to be deployed to multiple specific orbits. Currently, it is too expensive to use even low-cost reusable rockets to deliver satellites to every orbit.

• To solve this problem, Momentus is providing a shuttle service for satellites. Large rockets deliver our shuttles loaded with satellites into an initial orbit. Our shuttles then transport these satellites the last mile to their target orbits. Our satellite shuttles are powered by water plasma engines which makes deploying the satellites two to three times cheaper.

• The Momentus team is comprised of young and experienced professionals from leading U.S. space companies and institutions including JPL, Penstate, Caltech, SpaceX, SSL and Busek

Updated 2020 Roadmap from Momentus

• 2020 is a big year for Momentus, as the Vigoride shuttle will fly two demo missions, paving the way for commercial missions from 2021 onward.
• The first ever water-powered microwave electro-thermal (MET) thruster was launched and tested in space on the El Camino Real mission in 2019.
• The first full-scale Vigoride test mission “Strait of Magellan” is planned for Q3 2020 on the Soyuz rocket.
• Another planned ride is titled “Amber Road” in December 2020 on the SpaceX dedicated rideshare mission.
• After demos are completed in Q3/Q4, quarterly launches will be available in 2021 and beyond.

VIGORIDE
– Small satellites (up to 250 kg)
– Lower Earth Orbit

ARDORIDE
– Satellites (up to 2,000 kg)
– Geosynchronous Orbit
– Lunar Orbit

SERVICES PIPELINE

2019
Our shuttles, loaded with customer satellites, ride into space on either dedicated or
rideshare rockets. After the rocket reaches its initial orbit, they separate from the rocket and start their own journey to deliver each satellite to its individual orbit.

2021
Currently their satellite shuttles are expendable, but in the future they will make them reusable. They plan to operate several types of satellite shuttles, each tailored to a specific mass and orbit capabilities.

SOURCES- Momentus, CEO email interview
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com. Contact blwang at gmail dot com

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