Spaceflight Industries, Inc. is an American private aerospace company based out of Herndon, VA that specializes in organizing rideshare space launches of secondary payloads and geospatial intelligence services.
Spaceflight Industries has two primary business services: Spaceflight, their launch rideshare service, and BlackSky, their geospatial intelligence
Spaceflight Industries was founded in 2010 by Jason Andrews, with Curt Blake joining soon thereafter as SVP & General Counsel. Prior to founding Spaceflight, Mr. Andrews worked at Kistler Aerospace and founded Andrews Space in 1999. Mr. Blake has previous experience at Microsoft, Starwave, SpaceDev, and GotVoice. Spaceflight's mission is to fundamentally improve access to space by making launch more routine, more cost effective, and with standard flight interfaces.
The traditional business model for accessing space is one satellite to one launch vehicle. With the miniaturization of satellite hardware and improved communication capabilities, satellites have decreased in size and grown more powerful following Moore's Law. Spaceflight buys excess capacity from commercial launch vehicles, sells the capacity to a number of "rideshare" secondary payloads, and integrates all of the secondary satellites as one discrete unit to the launch vehicle, providing a significant price discount to reach orbit compared to buying an entire launch vehicle.
Launch payload sizes vary from 1 kg up to 300 kg micro satellites and use a variety of space launch vehicles, such as Antares, Dnepr, Soyuz, and Falcon 9, as well as from the International Space Station.
The company also began offering "dedicated rideshare," a launch alternative that lowers launch prices for organizations seeking access to space, maximizes utilization of the launch vehicle, and apportions cost based on schedule control and other service features. Lead customers pay for schedule control and other accoutrements of a traditional "primary" customer, but see their price reduced by including rideshare customers on the launch. Likewise, the traditional rideshare customers pay less because lead customers pay a disproportionate amount of the entire launch vehicle cost in order to retain schedule control.
Spaceflight is in the process of developing its SHERPA system, a space tug that uses a custom ring as its primary structure and includes a propulsion system and other spacecraft subsystems to operate as both a hosted payload platform and an in-space maneuvering stage to reposition small and secondary spacecraft. SHERPA enables more access to space for small spacecraft and hosted payloads, and would be able to transport rideshare payloads to the Moon and Mars.
Past and future missions
Spaceflight launched its first satellites, manifested by NASA Ames Research Center and Planet Labs, on board the Antares A-ONE and Bion-M No.1 missions in April 2013, respectively on the Antares 110 and Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicles. As of January 2017[update], Spaceflight had delivered 78 payloads over 12 launches, piggybacking on, Antares, Dnepr, PSLV and Soyuz-2 rockets, or on board Cygnus and Dragon spacecraft to the ISS.
In October 2015, Spaceflight Industries booked a launch slot on a Falcon 9 to deliver the 500-kg lunar lander built by SpaceIL for the Google Lunar X-Prize towards the end of 2017, but the partners failed to meet this target date. Beresheet launched February 22, 2019 on a rideshare with the telecom satellite Nusantara Satu.
In November 2016, Part-Time Scientists signed a launch contract with Spaceflight Industries for the delivery of its lander as a secondary payload on a vehicle yet to be identified, but most likely a SpaceX Falcon 9.[needs update]
In December 2018, Spaceflight announced the success of its SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission, which is the largest single rideshare mission from a U.S.-based launch vehicle till date. With the help of SpaceX Falcon 9, 64 spacecraft to sun-synchronous low Earth orbit were launched on December 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. At EoPortal.org is a comprehensive detail of payload adapter and List of payloads on the Spaceflight SSO-A rideshare mission
BlackSky, Spaceflight Industries geospatial intelligence service offers is a bleeding-edge provider of real time information from space via it’s constellation of satellites and geo-intelligence platform.BlackSky builds and operates their own earth-imaging satellite constellation and geo-intelligence platform offering near real time data analytics. Their first, Pathfinder-1, was launched on 26 September 2016 and the first pictures released publicly on 14 November 2016. In late 2018, BlackSky successfully launched Global-1 and Global-2, two of the company’s next generation global satellites, aboard the SSO-A mission. The company is aiming for a 60-satellite constellation, which will offer 1-meter resolution and rapid satellite revisit rates. The satellite constellation is currently being built by LeoStella LLC, a joint venture between Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space.
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