The launch vehicle from Rocket Factory Augsburg is depicted in flight in an artist’s concept. (RFA Illustr) According to a memorandum of understanding they have signed, Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle and Rocket Factory Augsburg, a German launch company, will use Spaceflight’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles to launch aboard the RFA One rocket.
The businesses stated they plan to launch their first spacecraft in the middle of 2024 in a statement released today at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris.
Spaceflight Inc. manages pre-launch logistics and plans for payloads to be launched on launchers owned by other businesses. Along with SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Northrop Grumman, and the European Arianespace consortium, Rocket Factory Augsburg, or RFA, is now a member of companies that provide spaceflight launch services.
Starting in 2023, RFA intends to launch its three-stage, 100-foot-tall rocket from bases in French Guiana, Britain, and other locations. RFA eventually wants to schedule launches every week.
IN A NEWS RELEASE, Spaceflight CEO Curt Blake stated that “having several distinct launch options across multiple pricing ranges, orbital destinations, and facility locations are all very important to our savvy spacecraft developer customers.”
Sherpa OTVs from Spaceflight, known as space tugs, are independent spacecraft that may be launched into orbit from their primary launch vehicles and carry other payloads with them. For Boeing’s Varuna program, SpaceX launched a Sherpa tug into orbit this month to test several communication systems.
Beginning in 2026, according to Astrobotic, it will deploy and demonstrate LunaGrid, a for-profit power-generating system intended for use on the moon’s surface. The Pittsburgh-based business plans to launch the first operational LunaGrid to the south pole of the moon in 2028 with assistance from NASA. Solar power would be directed to tethered rovers, which could wirelessly charge other equipment on the lunar surface.
Together, WiBotic and Astrobotic are developing wireless charging technology. WiBotic is situated in Seattle. According to CNBC, Hilton has agreed to design astronaut facilities for the commercial space station that Voyager Space Holdings and Lockheed Martin are building. Hilton will reportedly collaborate with Voyager to explore prospects for marketing the Starlab space station and astronaut experiences and developing hospitality suites and sleeping areas. One of the three commercial space station projects that received NASA’s assistance in 2017 is Starlab. Sierra Space and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company, Northrop Grumman and Dynetics, are in charge of two further projects.
Axiom Space is also developing a commercial space module as part of a separate agreement with NASA. The Federal Communications Commission has given Lynk Global permission to offer its direct satellite-to-phone data service. Lynk’s aim to expand its commercial operations in collaboration with mobile operators gains momentum with the FCC’s approval. The Virginia-based company is one of several organizations establishing hybrid satellite-cellular networks, along with T-Mobile, Globalstar, Apple, and SpaceX.