German company signs deal with SpaceX to launch more than 100 satellites

16 Nov 2021

Image: SpaceX

Exolaunch has already booked more than 95pc of the new payload capacity, boosting the German company’s business growth in the US.

Exolaunch has signed a new multi-launch agreement with SpaceX to get more satellites into orbit using SpaceX Transporter missions over the next two years.

The agreement includes more launches, more slots and more capacity for the German company aboard SpaceX’s dedicated rideshare missions.

Future Human

More than 95pc of the new capacity for next year has been booked by Exolaunch customers. In all, the deals allows for a payload mass of 3,000kg – the equivalent of more than 100 satellites – to be launched in 2022.

The new deal with SpaceX has twice the launch capacity as before and shows business growth for Exolaunch, which opened two offices in the US last month.

Vice-president of launch services at Exolaunch, Jeanne Medvedeva, said: “The new multi-launch agreement is the next step in our close and extensive work with SpaceX. It also demonstrates the strong transatlantic cooperation in the commercial space sector between the USA and Germany.”

The German company has launched 170 satellites over the last 10 years.

Rideshare missions are used to get small satellites into orbit together, to cut costs and maximise efficiency. This includes microsatellites with a mass between 10kg and 100kg, and cubesats that only have a mass of up to 1.33kg.

SpaceX launched 88 small satellites on 30 June from a single flight on the Falcon 9 rocket.

The next SpaceX rideshare mission, Transporter-3, is scheduled to launch no earlier than January 2022 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“The global demand for more commercial missions and space-based applications is growing significantly,” said Exolaunch’s US CEO Chris Hearsey. “[Exolaunch] is in a prime position to help companies, in the USA and globally, wanting to benefit from these opportunities and gain access to space.

“SpaceX is an excellent launch provider and their rideshare program is a great way to address smallsat operator’s urgent need for more launches at lower cost.”

Exolaunch has developed technology to get small satellites into orbit, all of which is fully qualified for Falcon 9 launches.

This includes the EXOport, which accommodates microsatellites and cubesats on the Falcon 9 payload stack, and CarboNIX, a shock-free separation system for microsats.

In previous rideshare missions Transporter-1 and Transporter-2, Exolaunch sent more than 1,500 kg of satellite mass into orbit, with 46 cubesats deployed and 13 microsats separated by CarboNIXes.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com