SAN FRANCISCO – Momentus, the Silicon Valley startup preparing to demonstrate its water plasma propulsion in orbit for the first time in July, revealed details of the transportation services it will offer small satellites seeking rides to medium Earth, geostationary or low lunar orbit.
Customers will have the option of purchasing their own rides into orbit and relying on the Vigoride Extended transfer vehicle to move satellites from their initial drop-off points to their final destinations. Or, customers can sign up for the Vigoride Extended Line, where Momentus handles all transportation from the ground to the customer’s final orbit.
“In the Line service, we act as a broker, booking dedicated rides or rideshares with our launch partners,” Negar Feher, Momentus product and business development vice president, told SpaceNews. “Launch partners bring the satellites to space. From that point, we take them wherever they are trying to go.”
Momentus has raised approximately $16 million since it was established in 2017. “We have all the funding we need to develop these platforms,” Feher said.
German launch services provider Exolaunch and Deimos Space of Madrid have announced plans to move satellites with Momentus’ Vigoride and Vigoride Extended transfer vehicles. Vigoride is designed to raise satellites in low Earth orbit, deploy low Earth orbit constellations or move satellites to new planes in sun synchronous orbit.
Vigoride Extended, with a preliminary price of $4.8 million, is designed to move satellites with a mass of 200 to 400 kilograms from low Earth orbit or geostationary transfer orbit to geostationary orbit or lunar orbit, Momentus President Mikhail Kokorich said by email.
Feher sees strong demand from customers seeking rides to geostationary orbit to claim orbital slots for communications satellites. ABL Space Systems, a Momentus launch partner, advertises rides to low Earth orbit for $12 million. “Now, it’s so affordable you can launch a cubesat to geostationary orbit or to lunar orbit,” Feher said.
Momentus is preparing to demonstrate its water plasma propulsion system on an Astro Digital 16-unit cubesat scheduled to launch July 5 on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Vostochny Cosmodrome. Two more Momentus launches are slated for 2020. The first Vigoride Extended mission is set for 2021.
Through its Vigoride and Vigoride Extended Lines, Momentus will offer dedicated annual rideshare missions. “It will be the cheapest rides to GEO people have ever encountered,” Feher said. “For example, you can take a 6u cubesat to GEO with us for less than $2 million.”
Momentus expects to see growing demand for transportation to lunar orbit as NASA prepares to send astronauts to the moon in 2024.
“There will be a lot of infrastructure work before people get there,” Feher said. “We’ll be there to support the missions scouting out landing sites and providing communications.”
Momentus has conducted extensive testing of its new propulsion technology on the ground. “We’ll launch it this year to validate the testing we’ve done in the lab,” Feher said.