Exolaunch had a successful launch of 15 commercial, governmental and scientific satellites for its customers that ranged from locations in Europe, Canada, the UAE and the U.S. The Mission dubbed “Wanderlust,” Desire to Travel, lifted off on September 28 at 11:20 UTC on a Soyuz-2 rocket, marking over 100 satellites deployed by the company.
On this mission, Exolaunch provided comprehensive launch, deployment, mission management and integration services to Kepler Communications, Spire Global, the UAE Space Agency, Technische Universität Berlin, Würzburg Center for Telematics and two unnamed commercial customers.
The company confirmed successful separation of three microsatellites weighing within 100 kg and 12 nanosatellites into a sun-synchronous orbit of 575 km. These smallsats have various missions, including IoT, Earth observation, airplane and ship tracking, radio occultation measurements, greenhouse gas monitoring, scientific experiments and new technology demonstration.
Wanderlust is Exolaunch’s eleventh rideshare mission in total and seventh mission with Soyuz. Exolaunch successfully utilized its proprietary flight-proven separation systems – CarboNIX the next generation shock-free separation system for microsatellites, upgraded modifications of EXOpod cubesat deployers, as well as its EXObox sequencers to flawlessly deploy its customers’ satellites into the target orbit. With this launch, Exolaunch has flown 110 smallsats on multiple launch vehicles.
“This was an ambitious mission and it has been a privilege launching satellites for so many talented teams. With this launch, we have deployed over 100 satellites into orbit, hitting a major milestone in the launch industry,” says Exolaunch’s VP of Launch Services, Jeanne Medvedeva. “As a self-funded and profitable New Space company – still quite an anomaly for this industry – Exolaunch is proud to be playing a key role in advancing Germany’s position in the New Space field and providing end-to-end launch and deployment solutions for the industry’s leaders.”
Exolaunch continues to make space more accessible through regular and cost-efficient rideshare missions for small satellites. Its flight heritage includes successful satellite deployments from SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Arianespace’s Soyuz-ST, RocketLab’s Electron, Roscosmos’ Soyuz-2 and a scheduled mission with ISRO’s PSLV next year.
The next major milestone for the company will be a launch campaign for 30 small satellites on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the first smallsat dedicated rideshare mission of SpaceX targeted for launch as soon as December 2020.
Exolaunch’s manifest on the Wanderlust mission includes the following satellites:
2 x 6U XL next generation nanosatellites from Kepler Communications: Kepler, a developer of next-generation satellite communications technologies. These satellites, both of which carry a high-capacity Ku-band communications system and a prototype IoT payload, are important instalments of Kepler’s development and demonstration platforms. The satellites will deliver additional capacity for Kepler’s Global Data Service and also be a technology demonstration platform for Kepler’s narrowband connectivity solution for IoT devices.
4 x Lemur-class 3U nanosatellites from Spire Global: Spire Global runs the world’s largest private constellation of nanosatellites making radio occultation measurements, alongside other whole-earth observations that serve the maritime, weather, and aviation industries. To date, Spire has launched more than 100 satellites that operate across a broad range of orbits. Exolaunch has helped deploy approximately one-third of Spire’s satellite constellation, which now also includes four of its Lemur-class 3U satellites on today’s mission.
MeznSat 3U nanosatellite from the UAE Space Agency: The UAE Space Agency is pushing technological developments in the local New Space industry through MeznSat. The purpose of the satellite is to study and monitor greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 and Methane, over the UAE. MeznSat is a nanosatellite for climate observation, manufactured by Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST) in partnership with the American University of Ras Al-Khaimah (AURAK) and funded by the UAE Space Agency. The satellite’s primary payload will be a shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectrometer that makes observations in the 1000-1650 nm wavelength range to derive atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. This is a prominent project for the UAE Space Agency, launching immediately after its recent HOPE mission to Mars.
SALSAT microsatellite from the Technische Universität Berlin: With SALSAT, the Technische Universität Berlin aims to analyze the global spectrum use of S-band and VHF, UHF amateur radio bands. This analysis is required due to the increasing number of users and the intensification of radio communication, which is leading to an escalating probability of interference between radio signals. It will analyze the global spectrum usage with SALSA, a spectrum analyzer payload based on a Software Defined Radio and also features a variety of unique secondary payloads.
4 x 3U NetSat nanosatellites from the Würzburg Center for Telematics: NetSat is composed of four 3U satellites that will pioneer research in formation control. It is set to demonstrate the self-organization of several satellites in three-dimensional space to jointly optimize the configuration for given tasks. This will then open innovative perspectives for future sensor networks in space, including systems for three-dimensional imaging of the Earth’s surface and computer tomography methods for looking inside clouds.
2 microsatellites within 100 kg for Earth Observation and one 3U nanosatellite for IoT applications for Exolaunch’s unnamed European-based commercial customers.