The first Orbiter space tug flight has customers, according to the launcher

The manifest for the inaugural launch of Launcher’s space tug sometime this year includes a mix of academic and commercial payloads. The first flight of Launcher’s Orbiter vehicle, which is going to be on SpaceX’s Transporter-6 rideshare trip in October, will launch satellites for six clients and transport hosted payloads for 4 others, the company stated on May 16.

NPC Spacemind, Skyline Celestial, and Innova Space are 3 of the satellite clients that are creating cubesats. Stanford University and Cal Poly Ponoma both have student cubesat initiatives. The name of the 6th satellite customer was not revealed by Launcher.

Cesium Astro, one of the hosted payload clients, will use the Orbiter to fly their Nightingale Ka-band phased-array communications system. TRL11, which is a space technology business; Beyond Burials, a space memorial services provider; and an unidentified customer are among the other hosted payload customers.

In a statement, David Caponio, who works as the Launcher’s head of product & business development, stated, “We are thrilled to have a diverse spectrum of customers join us on Orbiter’s inaugural flight, including universities, early-stage enterprises, and more established ones.” “It gives us great pleasure to host 2 of these payloads on a mission of long-duration, demonstrating Orbiter’s feasibility and utility as a managed satellite platform.”

In June 2021, Launcher revealed the Orbiter transfer vehicle, that is going to offer last-mile delivery capabilities for satellites deployed on rideshare missions and also its launch vehicle, as well as capabilities of hosted payload. It joins an increasingly competitive market of firms selling comparable vehicles that can transport tiny satellites to their preferred orbits, particularly on SpaceX’s dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare flights.

The customer contracts for this operation were not disclosed, but Launcher claims it charges $8,000 to $25,000 for every kilogram for deployment and orbital transfer solutions for satellites, based on mission requirements. For $400,000, including launch costs, the business also provides a dedicated Orbiter mission.

While the maiden Orbiter mission is already fully booked, SpaceX is marketing future missions on 3 other SpaceX Transporter rideshare trips that were planned in February. The missions will launch in the months of January, April, as well as October 2023, respectively.

Orbiter serves as a stepping stone to the company’s Launcher Light, which is its launch vehicle and will carry up to 150 kg into low Earth orbit (LEO). The first test-firing of the E-2 engine for that launch vehicle that was full-thrust got disclosed on April 25 by the business. The first launch of Launcher Light is expected for 2024.

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