Space startup Launcher announces new CubeSat platform for SpaceX 2022 mission

Space startup Launcher has a new satellite platform that will carry stacks of CubeSats into space, the company said after funding nearly $ 12 million.

The platform, called the Orbiter, will send up to 330 pounds (150 kg) of mass into orbit. Initially, it will be used for carpool missions that send fleets of small satellites into orbit, with a larger satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launcher’s first mission will take off aboard a Falcon 9 in October. 2022.

“With Orbiter, developers of small satellite constellations can take advantage of the fast pace and unprecedented price tag of the SpaceX carpooling program to build their constellation at optimal cost and timing,” said Hawthorne, Calif., Based Launcher. . stated in a press release.

Related: See the evolution of SpaceX rockets in pictures

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An illustration of the Launcher Orbiter spacecraft shortly after separating from the top stage of its Launcher Light rocket.

An illustration of the Launcher Orbiter spacecraft shortly after separating from the top stage of its Launcher Light rocket. (Image credit: launcher)
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An artist's concept of the Launcher Orbiter with its engaged propulsion module.

An artist’s concept of the Launcher Orbiter with its engaged propulsion module. (Image credit: launcher)
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An artist's concept of the planned Launcher Light rocket with a Launcher Orbiter spacecraft encapsulated inside its payload shroud.

An artist’s concept of the planned Launcher Light rocket with a Launcher Orbiter spacecraft encapsulated inside its payload shroud. (Image credit: launcher)

Orbiter will also serve as the third stage of Launcher Light, a small rocket that Launcher hopes to put into low Earth orbit in 2024. The company said customers may consider Launcher Light for “additional orbits and schedules.”

The relatively small size of the rocket (at 50 feet (15 meters)) allows full focus on a single small mission, as opposed to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (230 feet or 70 meters), in which Orbiter is to fly as carpooling vehicle.

Regardless of which option customers choose, most of Orbiter’s components are designed and built by Launcher for “competitive prices for its customers,” the company added. Orbiter can also change the orbital speed of satellites by about 500 meters per second, allowing machines to go slightly higher or lower in their orbits.

Launcher Light will compete in a crowded small rocket market that includes Rocket Lab’s Electron and Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. In 2018, however, Max Haot, the founder and CEO of Launcher, says SpaceNews that the company is not ready to rush into space. However, he added that Launcher Light has the benefit of optimizing performance instead of asking its customers to make changes to their payloads.

“We have a very long-term vision, 10 to 20 years,” Haot said in the interview. “We don’t think the people who got there a few years ago will be the winners. We think those who operate with the higher margin will be the winners.”

Earlier this month, Launcher announced that it had raised $ 11.7 million in a Series A funding round, co-led by Boost.VC and Haot, who invested $ 5 million by selling his Mevo camera company at Logitech. The company is also working on the development of an E-2 engine for Launcher Light.

Haot said the extra money would help put Launcher Light into orbit, while funding the hiring of an additional 40 employees in 2021, almost double its current number of 30, according to Ars Technica. Within three years, Launcher plans to employ 150 people.

“Compared to our competition, we are in kindergarten of fundraising,” Haot told Ars Technica. “This is a major acceleration in funding for us.”

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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