Exolaunch Rideshare Service Provider
Exolaunch GmbH is a German launch services, mission management, and deployment systems provider based in Berlin, Germany. The company's main focus is the deployment of small satellites, ranging from CubeSats to microsatellites. 1)
Company milestones: Exolaunch was founded by scientists and engineers from the Department of Space Technology at the Technical University of Berlin in 2010. It started as one of the global pioneers of the NewSpace era. After delivering its first rideshare cluster to orbit in 2013, Exolaunch was recognized and honored by TU Berlin as a ‘Startup of Excellence'. Since then, the company has expanded to become a global leader in providing both launch services and small satellite deployment technologies having launched satellites for over 30 customers to date.
In October 2020, Exolaunch signed a long-term launch agreement with SpaceX to secure Falcon 9 capacity for launching small satellites as part of SpaceX's SmallSat Rideshare Program. Under the agreement, Exolaunch manifests multiple microsatellites and CubeSats on Falcon 9 rideshare missions to a sun-synchronous orbit throughout 2020 – 2021.
In 2021, Exolaunch completed one of the largest and most diverse rideshare missions with SpaceX Transporter-1 and its largest mission of one ton of smallsats onboard Transporter-2. Exolaunch deployment technologies are fully qualified for SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches, with total flight heritage of 170 satellites deployed into orbit, and 59 small satellites launched via Falcon 9 in 2021. The company has partnerships with the most trusted and reliable launch vehicle providers, being recognized as an authorized integrator for smallsat clusters. Exolaunch also has a strong history of quality and reliability in its products and services, and relentlessly pursues innovation, seeking solutions to some of the most challenging problems of rendering space accessible for the benefit of humanity (Ref. 2).
Exolaunch has an industry insight it can leverage to develop one-stop-shop solutions tailored towards meeting customer needs and addressing market trends. Exolaunch executes launch contracts for the NewSpace leaders, the world's most innovative startups, research institutions, government organizations, and space agencies.
The Exolaunch company manufactures its own advanced lightweight and flight-proven separation systems to deliver the best-in-class integration and deployment services for small satellites. Exolaunch is also developing a line of environmentally conscious space tugs named Reliant to provide last-mile delivery services and remove space debris reliably. Exolaunch is committed to making space accessible for everyone and to promoting safe, sustainable, and responsible use of space.
Figure 1: A photo of the Exolaunch team providing outstanding service results as a startup company on the international launch scene (image credit: Exolaunch)
Launch service provision for small satellites and development events
• October 19, 2021: Exolaunch, a provider of launch, deployment, and in-space transportation services, has expanded its business operations and sales in North America by opening offices in Denver, CO and Washington, DC. To lead its US operations (Exolaunch, Inc. doing business as Exolaunch USA), capture new market opportunities, and continue business growth in the region, Exolaunch USA has hired aerospace executive Chris Hearsey as its Chief Executive Officer. Having doubled sales globally, compared to last year, in 2022 Exolaunch is expecting to further increase its sales and keep its high launch rate by sending 100+ smallsats into space for the industry's leading players. 2)
- "Exolaunch is a fast-growing commercial space company with a distinguished NewSpace heritage, and I am excited to lead its efforts in North America. Exolaunch's expansion into US markets will make access to space easier, regular, and more affordable for our customers," said Chris Hearsey. "We have put together an experienced and talented team to lead Exolaunch USA's business development from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. This is a major step for Exolaunch, and we are in a great position to bring our one-stop-shop solutions to broader markets."
Figure 2: Left: Chris Hearsey, CEO at Exolaunch USA. Right: Kier Fortier, Director of launch at Exolaunch USA (image credit: Exolaunch)
- Hearsey has worked in the space industry at various levels in commercial, civil, and non-profit roles with a strong background in building and advising start-up organizations. Prior to joining Exolaunch, Hearsey served as Director of DC Operations and Government Affairs for Bigelow Aerospace. He was also the founder and CEO of OSA Consulting, managing a portfolio of start-up space companies in the US and in Europe.
- Hearsey will be supported by Kier Fortier, Director of Launch for Exolaunch USA, who has been leading the development of sales and partnerships to increase the visibility of Exolaunch in North America.
- Fortier said: "It is an excellent time to be in the launch services industry as commercial and government organizations alike are expanding into more interesting and sophisticated mission architectures. Our new office in the aerospace hub of Colorado will allow us to fully expand into the US and North American markets and focus on providing tailored launch solutions for our customers and their missions."
• October 4, 2021:EnduroSat of Sofia Bulgaria, provider of software-defined nanosatellites and Space Services for business and academia, and Exolaunch, the industry-leading provider of launch, integration, deployment and mission management services for small satellites, today announced the signing of launch agreements for sending two EnduroSat nanosatellites into orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9. The 6U XL SharedSat nanosatellites, built by EnduroSat for its customers, will be launched via Exolaunch in H1 2022 as part of SpaceX's SmallSat Rideshare Program. 3)
- The SharedSats are 6U XL CubeSats with several multi-purpose payloads on a single bus. By simplifying access to space services through shared missions for a range of commercial, exploration and science customers, EnduroSat aims to lower significantly the entry barrier of operations in orbit.
- The two SharedSats are part of the commercial EnduroSat's missions. They foresee integration, validation, and testing, launch and operations of the satellite and hosted payloads. Direct access to the payload data will be made available in the cloud through EnduroSat's Digital Mission Control. The software-centric NanoSat architecture allows for multiple payloads to operate together reliably on a single platform with access to on-demand processing, power and pointing capability.
- Exolaunch will ensure comprehensive rideshare mission management, satellite integration and deployment services for both EnduroSat missions. The launches are arranged by Exolaunch under its Multi-Launch Agreement with SpaceX.
- For both missions Exolaunch will use its proprietary deployment technologies - the EXOpod, a next-generation CubeSat deployer with half a decade and 100+ of released satellites flight heritage, to flawlessly deploy the EnduroSat's satellites into their target sun-synchronous orbit above 500 km and the EXOport, a flexible multi-satellite adapter designed to optimally accommodate several satellites on a single Falcon 9 port.
- The new launch agreements mark the expansion of EnduroSat's Shared Satellite Service and pave the way to the continued cooperation between the companies on future launches.
• September 28, 2021: The New Symphonie consortium, led by Unseenlabs, the European leader in satellite-based RF geolocation of ships at sea, and Euroconsult, the global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm specialized in the space sector and satellite enabled verticals, is competing in the European Commission call for tenders "New Space solutions for long-term availability of reliable, secure, cost-effective space based connectivity". Exolaunch, an environmentally conscious global leader in rideshare space transportation with a decade of flight heritage in providing turnkey launch solutions for the New Space industry, flight proven and proprietary deployment technologies and a top-notch customer portfolio, was invited to join the Consortium to cover launch and deployment operations, small satellite in-space logistics and deorbiting. In total, the consortium counts more than twenty European space companies, best in their respective fields, together showcasing an integral supply chain ensured by Europe for Europe. 4)
- "We are pleased to be part of this powerful consortium composed of the strongest market players, including our customers and partners," said Jeanne Medvedeva, VP of Launch Services at Exolaunch. "It's great to be united under the umbrella of this European Commission call to demonstrate the European space strength driven by clear common vision. To go far, we go together."
- Clément and Jonathan Galic, co-founders and respective CEO and CTO of Unseenlabs, stated "We are delighted to offer a credible, affordable and disruptive vision, with a purposeful but pragmatic step by step approach matching the European Commission's expectations."
- This tender aims to identify and assess new disruptive ideas for moving from Govsatcom to a secure space connectivity system and tap into the exciting potential of the commercial space ecosystem, in order to define an innovative EU Space-based Global Secure Connectivity System that can deliver communication services for governmental and non-governmental users. The procurement will award up to two six-month long contracts, each with a maximum value of 1.4 M EUR, with award criteria assessing the degree of innovation and inclusion of leading-edge technologies, as well as aspects such technical quality and originality of response.
- Pacôme Revillon, Euroconsult Group's CEO said, "Each member of New Symphonie is a recognized leader in its business field, and as a whole the consortium is greater than the sum of its members, ready to contribute to a more sovereign and autonomous EU, as well as provide socio-economic benefits to its 450 million citizens."
- The New Symphonie boasts an extensive European footprint, bringing a multi-national approach to its core. The grouping has New Space at its heart, with the majority of members representing agile, responsive and commercially minded small and medium sized businesses.
- "At Exolaunch we prioritize comprehensive solutions. This is something that has also been laid down as the core philosophy of the Consortium – to conceptualize an end-to-end service with engagement of representatives of the entire value chain," said Olga Stelmahk-Drescher, Chief Policy and Government Relations Officer at Exolaunch. "Such calls are a perfect proof of the essence of a team play and the weight of every single member in a game outcome. We are pleased to be a launch pillar of this Consortium and partner with those who drive the European space innovation setting a benchmark on a global scale".
Figure 3: The full list of New Symphonie collaborators represents a large, pan-European mix of organizations: Aerospacelab (BE), Anywaves (FR), Avio (IT), Cailabs (FR), DE-CIX (DE), Exolaunch (DE), Exotrail (FR), Fresnel Alliance (FR), Gomspace (DK), Greenerwave (FR), Integrasys (ES), KSAT (NO), Loft Orbital (FR), Qest Antenna Technology (DE), Satconsult (FR), Secure-IC (FR), Sener (ES), Sitael (IT), Tesat (DE), Transatel (FR).
• September 23, 2021: Lunasonde, a startup company of Cortaro, Arizona, focuses on subsurface imaging from space, and Exolaunch, a global leader in rideshare launch, deployment and integration services for small satellites, announced the launch agreements to fly a portion of the Gossamer satellite constellation to a sun-synchronous orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 Transporter missions in 2022. 5)
- Though resources such as water and minerals power our world, there is no sustainable way to locate them and no scalable way to map them. Lunasonde is the next frontier in resource exploration, solving the problem of subsurface uncertainty by creating true 3D maps up to 2 kilometers underground. Lunasonde can locate groundwater, mineral deposits, and other geological resources and collects this data remotely via its Gossamer satellites. This idea was developed by Jeremiah Pate, CEO of Lunasonde, back in 2016 when he was still at high school, and gained support from Seraphim Capital and Techstars.
- "Lunasonde's solution was built with sustainability in mind – we remotely explore for resources without disrupting the planet," said Jeremiah Pate, CEO and Founder of Lunasonde. "Our ability to pinpoint resources quickly, cost effectively, and sustainably will only increase in importance in the years to come. We're excited to partner with Exolaunch and SpaceX to launch the first satellites of our constellation."
- Lunasonde is pioneering subsurface imaging while providing a sustainable approach to resource exploration. Using satellite-based ultra-low frequency radar, Lunasonde makes the underground world visible, fundamentally transforming our understanding of planet earth. By combining conventional physics with proprietary novel technology, Lunasonde builds the first true 3D maps of the earth's subsurface.
• September 16, 2021: Synspective Inc., of Tokyo, Japan, a SAR satellite data and analytic solution provider, announced a new Launch Agreement with a small satellite launch services provider, Exolaunch, to launch Synspective's third demonstration SAR satellite "StriX-1" on a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle in mid-2022. The companies extended their collaboration after signing a launch agreement for the second Synspective's demonstration SAR satellite "StriX-beta", which is currently under the final preparations for launch later this year.
Figure 4: StriX-1 is the third satellite of a 30 SAR satellite constellation that Synspective is planning to deploy by the late 2020s. This LEO constellation will be capable of observing the location of a disaster occurring anywhere in the world within 2 hours (within 24 hours with the first 6 satellites built and deployed by 2023), image credit: Synspective
- Dr. Motoyuki Arai, founder and CEO of Synspective, said, "Following the launch of our small SAR satellite, ‘StriX-β', we are pleased to entrust the launch of the third satellite, ‘StriX-1', with Exolaunch, whose courteous and flexible response has given us peace of mind during this difficult COVID-19 situation. The ‘StriX-1' commercial prototype, together with the released solutions for infrastructure development and disaster risk management, will be the basis for our future business expansion. We will accomplish this mission and steadily achieve results to enhance global efficiency and resilience."
- Exolaunch is arranging a dedicated custom orbit for Synspective's satellites deployment along with the launch, end-to-end mission management, and integration services. Earlier this year the teams of Synspective and Exolaunch successfully completed the joint tests with the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle's interfaces and conducted a site survey at Vostochny launch site prior to the upcoming launch campaigns.
• April 12, 2021: Exolaunch of Berlin, Germany, a rideshare services provider for the NewSpace industry and trendsetter in deployment solutions, today introduced its space tug program, featuring a new line of revolutionary OTVs (Orbital Transfer Vehicles) that will launch satellites to custom orbits in an environmentally responsible way - the first of its kind in the OTV industry. The company's space tug testing and flight qualification will begin in 2022 on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rideshare missions. 6)
Founded by scientists and engineers from the Department of Space Technology at the Technical University of Berlin in 2010, Exolaunch started as one of the global pioneers of the New Space era.
With over 140 satellites deployed to date across different launch vehicles, Exolaunch has an industry insight it can leverage to develop solutions tailored towards meeting customer needs and addressing market trends. Named Reliant, Exolaunch will offer the most robust OTV platform on the market for performance, payload, capacity, and flexibility in executing orbital maneuvers.
Figure 5: Illustration of various on-orbit services (image credit: Exolaunch)
Exolaunch's tug is powered by an innovative green propulsion system, which also provides a high thrust-to-weight ratio and meets the highest standards for environmental safety. Its design also leverages additive technologies using lightweight carbon fiber composites and 3D printing, resulting in low mass and high cost-efficiency. The Reliant currently comes in two configurations, Standard and Pro.
The Standard configuration is optimal for moving satellites to a custom orbit altitude after they've been deployed from a launch vehicle on a set rideshare orbit. For example, the utilized propulsion system allows to lift the orbit from 250-300 km to 550 km in one hour, greatly expanding the reach of existing missions to the small satellite community.
Figure 6: Exolaunch prepares its CarboNIX product, a "shock-free separation system" for small satellites with a mass of 10-350 kg (image credit: Exolaunch)
CarboNIX, a family of small satellite separation systems
CarboNIX is a scalable separation system that is available in sizes of 8", 15" and 24" diameter for microsatellites weighting from 10 up to 350 kg. CarboNIX uses patented shock-free technology to reduce the risk of damaging sensitive satellites optical payloads and electronic components. In addition, CarboNIX uses a unique synchronous spring pusher system which separates satellites smoothly and evenly, without unwanted shocks or tumbling, making it the lowest-shock and lowest-tumbling separation system ever used in space. 7)
A description of the CarboNIX system is provided in the user guide.
Figure 7: The main components of the CarboNIX separation system (image credit: Exolaunch)
The S-Ring is the part of the CarboNIX that is attached to the satellite. It is fastened to the bottom of the satellite using 24 M6 screws in a circular pattern 15 inch (381 mm) in diameter. The mass of the S-Ring is 315 grams.
For customers that have 1/4-20 or 1/4-28 threaded holes on their baseplate, an S-Ring has been developed that can accommodate the slightly larger fastener.
The L-Ring is the portion of the satellite that remains on the launch vehicle after separation. It is physically and electronically connected to the launch vehicle adapter. The mass of the L-Ring id 2400 grams.
Exolaunch Introduces Eco Space Tug Program
Figure 8: Exolaunch's tug is powered by an innovative green propulsion system, which also provides a high thrust-to-weight ratio and meets the highest standards for environmental safety. Its design also leverages additive technologies using lightweight carbon fiber composites and 3D printing, resulting in low mass and high cost-efficiency. The Reliant currently comes in two configurations, Standard and Pro (image credit: Exolaunch)
The Standard configuration is optimal for moving satellites to a custom orbit altitude after they've been deployed from a launch vehicle on a set rideshare orbit. For example, the utilized propulsion system allows to lift the orbit from 250-300 km to 550 km in one hour, greatly expanding the reach of existing missions to the small satellite community.
The Pro configuration is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system, which combines the advantages of green propulsion and the unique capabilities of electric propulsion system. The Reliant Pro enables customers to not only change the orbit altitude, but also adjust the inclination, LTAN/LTDN and perform orbital phasing for satellite constellations. Additionally, it is designed to deorbit in less than two hours after deployment completion, minimizing the risks of space collisions and reducing orbital debris.
"There is an increased demand from our customers and the NewSpace industry for dedicated injection and custom orbit in their constellation deployment programs, but until now they've been limited to one orbit per launch," said Jeanne Medvedeva, Vice President of Launch Services at Exolaunch. "Our space tug program will now offer customers multiple orbit options for smallsat deployments on any given mission, enabling wider access to space and diverse constellation launch strategies. It is also our contribution to the capacity-building of in-space logistics, a new emerging niche that is gaining value in the Exolaunch portfolio."
Reliant will also set the standard for environmentally conscious OTVs, featuring the ability to install modular payloads with the purpose of tackling the growing issue of space debris. After safely deploying satellites into their target orbits, an essential task of the Reliant Pro would be to collect authorized space debris prior to deorbiting, positioning Exolaunch as a leading actor in fostering the sustainable use of space.
"In designing our OTV, we paid due regard to the space sustainability and space debris mitigation guidelines with constant thought as to how we could make a positive change and go beyond what has been done to set a new benchmark," said Dr. Olga Stelmakh-Drescher, Exolaunch Chief Policy and Government Relations Officer. "With that in mind, we developed a feature that would allow Exolaunch to not only mitigate the risk of space debris generation, but also to reduce the amount of debris in orbit every time Reliant is launched. We believe this dedicated OTV service will be in high demand by space governmental and intergovernmental organizations, and later on by private actors once the practice is established."
Exolaunch's space tugs are compatible with any launch vehicle, with the primary target use on Falcon 9 under SpaceX's SmallSat Rideshare Program. This allows Exolaunch customers to benefit from best-in-class tailored launch services, launch cost optimization, and flexible mission management while also offering access to custom orbits within the reach of a general rideshare program in an environmentally responsible way. Exolaunch's OTVs are fully compatible with its proprietary flight-proven deployment technologies, including CarboNIX, a next-gen scalable and shock-free microsatellite separation system; EXOpod, a cutting-edge CubeSat deployer; EXOport, a flexible multi-satellite adapter, and an EXObox sequencer.
Reliant is one aspect of Exolaunch's Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability impact initiative. As a responsible business, Exolaunch prioritizes environmental performance of its products and is committed to guaranteeing the conduct of its activities in a safe and ethical manner.
Some featured Exolaunch service missions (Ref. 1)
1) SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter-2 mission, 30 June 2021 8)
On this dedicated rideshare mission Exolaunch successfully launched 29 satellites totaling one metric ton for its customers from the United States, South America and Europe. The mission, dubbed ‘Fingerspitzengefühl' by Exolaunch, lifted off on June 30 at 19:31 UTC on SpaceX's Falcon 9 ‘Transporter-2', completing one of the largest and most diverse rideshare missions for Exolaunch. With this launch, Exolaunch has flown 170 small satellites on multiple launch vehicles.
Note: On board this SpaceX launch were 85 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsatellites, and orbital transfer vehicles) and 3 Starlink satellites. While there were fewer spacecraft on board compared to Transporter-1, this mission launched more mass to orbit for SpaceX's customers.
Exolaunch's small satellite cluster included payloads with cutting-edge technologies for IoT, Earth Observation and scientific applications, and satellites from its international customers such as Spire Global, ICEYE, Loft Orbital, NanoAvionics, and Technical University of Berlin. Exolaunch has also provided flight hardware, separation systems and integration services to support Satellogic's four microsatellites on this mission.
Fingerspitzengefühl is Exolaunch's 13th rideshare mission. It is also the second in a series of rideshares Exolaunch is manifesting on Falcon 9 as part of a Multi-Launch Agreement the company signed with SpaceX in 2020. For every Falcon 9 launch procured through the Multi-Launch Agreement with SpaceX, Exolaunch ensures comprehensive rideshare mission management, satellite integration and deployment services for its customers.
Fingerspitzengefühl symbolizes Exolaunch's vast experience in successfully deploying customers' satellites into orbit, inherent to Exolaunch ingenuity and mastery that the company has demonstrated once more. It's also a continuation of the individual mission names that started with ‘Zeitgeist', literally ‘Spirit of the Time', Exolaunch's previous rideshare launch aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 in January 2021.
To maximize payload capacity and cost-effectiveness for the customers of this mission, Exolaunch used its recent product addition, EXOport, a flexible multi-satellite adapter designed to optimally accommodate microsatellites and cubesats on a single Falcon 9 ESPA port. The company also utilized its proprietary flight-proven separation systems – CarboNIX, the next generation shock-free separation system for microsatellites, and the EXOpod, Exolaunch's upgraded cubesat deployer with half a decade of flight heritage, to flawlessly deploy the customers' satellites into the target sun-synchronous orbit above 500 km.
Figure 9: Overview of Exolaunch mission payloads and deployment services on the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission (image credit: Exolaunch)
Exolaunch's customers on the Transporter-2 mission include the following companies:
• 4 x ICEYE satellites: Four more satellites of an advanced radar imaging satellite constellation built and operated by ICEYE. ICEYE's constellation represents the world's first small SAR satellite constellation and the largest fleet of SAR satellites in the world. ICEYE's SAR satellite constellation provides different angle imaging multiple times a day for specified areas of interest. It is constantly growing and will provide previously unavailable imaging capabilities and access, allowing quick tactical acquisitions as well as very frequent global revisit rates.
• 2 x Spire Global Inc.'s LEMUR-class satellites: The Low Earth Multi-Use Receiver (LEMUR) is Spire's cubesat platform used to track maritime, aviation, and weather activity from space. Each satellite is equipped with multiple sensors, capable of capturing data day and night and during extreme weather conditions. Spire leverages its constellation to deliver proprietary data, insights, and predictive analytics to its global commercial and government customers.
• Loft Orbital's YAM-3 satellite: The YAM-3 (‘Yet Another Mission'-3) microsatellite carries various payloads for Loft Orbital's customers, including an Internet of Things payload, an onboard autonomy demonstration, a positioning and queuing demonstration and blockchain applications. Using a unique aggregation approach, Loft Orbital offers its customers end-to-end services and delivery of missions to orbit on a standardized satellite bus. Its customers provide payloads, sensors or experiments while also saving time and avoiding the complexity and costs of building their own spacecraft.
• NanoAvionics' D2/AtlaCom-1 satellite: NanoAvionics' high-performance nanosatellite rideshare mission with hyperspectral imaging and communication payloads hosted onboard its M6P 6U nanosatellite bus. A key instrument of this mission is the "Mantis imager", a hyperspectral camera for remote sensing developed by Dragonfly Aerospace. Responsible for processing the collected hyperspectral data and distributing it to interested parties around the world is Space JLTZ. Mission's objectives are to perform a flight demonstration of the hyperspectral imaging and communication payloads, and to evaluate the market interest for hyperspectral imaging data captured and processed as part of the program.
• TU Berlin's TUBIN satellite: Supported by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), a university satellite mission has an objective to demonstrate novel Earth remote sensing technologies for nanosatellites. Following the TechnoSat mission, TUBIN (Technische Universität Berlin Infrared Nanosatellite) is the second satellite to be based on the TUBiX20 satellite platform of the Technical University Berlin. The mission's objectives are the development and testing of a payload for remote sensing in thermal infrared using bolometer technology, as well as further development and production of an adaptive nanosatellite platform TUBiX20 as part of a technology testing mission. In addition to this, the mission targets the development and testing of a high-precision attitude determination and control system, as well as the evaluation of the payload data on board the satellite.
• 4 x Satellogic NewSat satellites: Four commercial Earth observation satellites of a NewSat series (named after pioneering women in STEM: Rosalind Franklin, Grace Hopper, Elisa Bachofen, and Sofya Kovalevskaya) are added to the Aleph-1 constellation of high-resolution imaging satellites to provide real-time Earth imaging and video from space. A 0.7-meter resolution imagery allows to provide a more detailed view of the globe for more precise decision making. Additionally, Satellogic's expanded capacity will deliver increased revisit capabilities, with up to four daily revisits of any point of interest, as well as complete remapping of any country every month and the collection of over 4 million sq. kilometers of high-resolution data every day.
• And sixteen other US nanosatellites.
Figure 10: Launch of the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission and deployment of rideshare payloads (image credit: SpaceX)
2) Soyuz-2 mission, 28 September 2020 9)
The mission Exolaunch dubbed "Wanderlust" (Desire to Travel), lifted off on September 28 at 11:20 UTC on a Soyuz-2 rocket with a Fregat upper stage from Plesetsk, Russia. 15 commercial, governmental and scientific satellites for Exolaunch's customers from Europe, Canada, the UAE and the U.S were successfully delivered into orbit. — The primary payload on the mission were two Russian Gonets-M (Messenger) communication satellites, Gonets-M16 and Gonets-M17.
Exolaunch provided comprehensive launch, deployment, mission management and integration services to Kepler Communications, Spire Global, the UAE Space Agency, Technische Universität Berlin, Würzburg Center for Telematics, NanoAvionics and one unnamed commercial customer. With this launch, Exolaunch has flown 110 smallsats on multiple launch vehicles.
The company confirmed successful separation of three microsatellites weighing within 100 kg and 12 nanosatellites into a sun-synchronous orbit of 575 km. These smallsats have various missions, including IoT, Earth observation, airplane and ship tracking, radio occultation measurements, greenhouse gas monitoring, scientific experiments and new technology demonstration.
Wanderlust is Exolaunch's eleventh rideshare mission in total and seventh mission with Soyuz. Exolaunch successfully utilized its proprietary flight-proven separation systems – CarboNIX the next generation shock-free separation system for microsatellites, upgraded modifications of EXOpod CubeSat deployers, as well as its EXObox sequencers to flawlessly deploy its customers' satellites into the target orbit.
Figure 11: Launch of the Soyuz-2.1b vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (video credit: Roscosmos)
Exolaunch's full manifest on the Wanderlust mission includes the following payloads:
• 2 x 6U XL Antilles and Amidala GEN1 nanosatellites from Kepler Communications. Kepler, a developer of next-generation satellite communications technologies. These satellites, both of which carry a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a prototype IoT payload, are important instalments of Kepler's development and demonstration platforms. The satellites will deliver additional capacity for Kepler's Global Data Service and also be a technology demonstration platform for Kepler's narrowband connectivity solution for IoT devices.
• 4 x Lemur-class 3U nanosatellites from Spire Global. Spire Global runs the world's largest private constellation of nanosatellites making radio occultation measurements, alongside other whole-earth observations that serve the maritime, weather, and aviation industries. To date, Spire has launched more than 100 satellites that operate across a broad range of orbits. Exolaunch has helped deploy approximately one-third of Spire's satellite constellation, which now also includes four of its Lemur-class 3U satellites on today's mission.
• MeznSat 3U nanosatellite from the UAE Space Agency. The UAE Space Agency is pushing technological developments in the local New Space industry through MeznSat. The purpose of the satellite is to study and monitor greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 and Methane, over the UAE. MeznSat is a nanosatellite for climate observation, manufactured by Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST) in partnership with the American University of Ras Al-Khaimah (AURAK) and funded by the UAE Space Agency. The satellite's primary payload will be a shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectrometer that makes observations in the 1000-1650 nm wavelength range to derive atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This is a prominent project for the UAE Space Agency, launching immediately after its recent HOPE mission to Mars.
• SALSAT microsatellite from the Technische Universität Berlin. With SALSAT, the Technische Universität Berlin aims to analyze the global spectrum use of S-band and VHF, UHF amateur radio bands. This analysis is required due to the increasing number of users and the intensification of radio communication, which is leading to an escalating probability of interference between radio signals. It will analyze the global spectrum usage with SALSA, a spectrum analyzer payload based on a Software Defined Radio and also features a variety of unique secondary payloads.
• 4 x 3U NetSat nanosatellites from the Würzburg Center for Telematics. NetSat is composed of four 3U satellites that will pioneer research in formation control. It is set to demonstrate the self-organization of several satellites in three-dimensional space to jointly optimize the configuration for given tasks. This will then open innovative perspectives for future sensor networks in space, including systems for three-dimensional imaging of the Earth's surface and computer tomography methods for looking inside clouds.
• Lacuna Space nanosatellite built by NanoAvionics. The payload, developed and built by Lacuna Space, consists of an IoT Space Gateway, able to receive and share data from small, battery powered sensors even in remote areas on the ground or at sea with little or no connectivity. The payload was integrated into NanoAvionics' M3P nanosatellite bus. The mission has been part-funded and supported by the UK Space Agency and ESA.
• 2 microsatellites within 100 kg for Earth Observation for Exolaunch's unnamed European-based commercial customer.
3) Rocket Lab Electron mission (dubbed 'As The Crow Flies' by Rocket Lab), 17 October 2019
For this dedicated launch of a 16U satellite on Electron in 2019, Exolaunch delivered deployment solution and integration services. Exolaunch utilized its 16U EXOpod deployer that has unique flight heritage and has successfully flown on multiple missions since 2017. The mission took off at 01:22 UTC from Māhia in New Zealand on 17 October 2019. 10)
The 16U CubeSat, named Palisade, was built by Astro Digital as a technology demonstration satellite. Astro Digital provides complete space-based systems and mission support services for Earth observation, communications, science, and technology demonstrations. This launch marked the first time a 16U CubeSat has flown on an Electron and the second 16U CubeSat that has ever been launched into space.
Chris Biddy, Co-founder and CEO of Astro Digital, a California-based satellite manufacturer and operator, commenting on the mission said: "Exolaunch delivered the 16U EXOpod in a very short time window, and we were very happy to receive it since it's the only flight proven 16U CubeSat deployer on the market. The unique, yet reliable piece of hardware performed flawlessly and Exolaunch provided technical support for the adaptation and during the spacecraft integration."
Figure 12: Integration of the 16U CubeSat into the 16U EXOpod at the Rocket Lab launch site (image credit: Exolaunch)
4) Soyuz-2 mission from Baikonur, 19 April 2013
Soyuz-2 launched successfully out of Baikonur, the world's first Cosmodrome and famous historic site, on 19 April 2013 at 10:00 am UTC. The primary payload on this launch was Roscosmos' Bion-M 1 satellite which carried a biological payload of live animals, plants and other life sciences experiments. 11)
This was the first time Exolaunch procured capacity on a launch vehicle. It was the dawn of the rideshare launches. After this launch, the fragmented small satellite launches started forming into what would become later known as "rideshare launch opportunities". Exolaunch is extremely proud to have been a pioneer in the New Space industry.
On this rideshare launch, Exolaunch provided launch and mission management services to two leading technical universities from Germany: the Technical University of Berlin and the Technical University of Dresden.
BEESAT-2 and BEESAT-3, Berlin Experimental and Education SATellite, were 1U CubeSats which were developed at TU Berlin to provide practical experience of working on a space project to its students. BEESAT-2's secondary mission objective was to implement an innovative position control system for CubeSats for use on future missions of the university. While the objective of the BEESAT-3 mission was to evaluate the S-band transmitter HISPICO and an Earth observation camera as well as other technologies developed at TU Berlin.
SOMP (Student's Oxygen Measurement Project) was an educational 1U CubeSat project from the Technical University of Dresden and was organized by students in the research group STARD (Spacecraft Engineering in Dresden). The project allowed students to practically apply their knowledge and gain experience designing and developing a CubeSat.
4) "Exolaunch plays its 'launch' part in New Symphonie consortium created to compete in the European Commission call for connectivity," Exolaunch, 28 September 2021, URL: https://exolaunch.com/news-block-38.html
5) "Lunasonde and Exolaunch Announce a Series of Agreements for the Launch of Lunasonde's Gossamer Satellite Constellation aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9," Exolaunch, 23 September 2021, URL: https://exolaunch.com/news-block-37.html
The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (email@example.com).