Spaceflight announces the launch of 13 payloads on its first multi-orbit space tug mission

Spaceflight announces the launch of 13 payloads on its first multi-orbit space tug mission

The Launch Announcements

TAMPA, FLORIDA — On Nov. 9, launch services firm Spaceflight announced intentions to use its new space tug to transfer 13 customer payloads across two orbits for the first time next year.

Sherpa-LTC1 is the first orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) using chemical propulsion in Spaceflight’s family of OTVs. It will make its debut as part of the SpaceX Transporter-3 mission, which is set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida in January 2022.

The OTC will be launched from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at first. The OTV will next install four microsatellites and five CubeSats in Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at 525 kilometres altitude in a mission called SXRS-6, according to Spaceflight.

Sherpa-LTC1 will employ its bipropellant, green propulsion unit from Benchmark Space Systems around a month later, following several commissioning and system tests. It will aim for a 500-kilometer manoeuvring range, where it will deploy the last four CubeSats.

The OTV will be used to lower the orbit of two 1.5U CubeSats for NASA, a satellite for Oregon’s Portland State University (PSU), and one other customer, according to mission director Ryan Olcott.

The satellites are part of NASA’s Low-Latitude Ionosphere/Thermosphere Enhancements in Density (LLITED) programme, which will investigate atmospheric drag causes.

OreSat0, the first of three satellites planned by Portland State University, will assist test an open-source platform built by the university’s Portland State Aerospace Society. Sherpa-LTC1 is carrying a total of eight firms, including return clients Capella Space, Umbra Space, Lynk Global, and Kleos Space.

The Partnership Objectives

New customers for the Spaceflight mission include the Czech Aerospace Research Centre, which is working with smallsat mission integrator Spacemanic, and Space Products and Innovation (SPiN).

SXRS-6 will be the third new Sherpa vehicle type introduced by Spaceflight in less than a year. As part of SpaceX’s Transporter-1 ride-share mission, Spaceflight launched its first Sherpa-NG (next-generation) vehicle, the Sherpa-FX1 with no propulsion, in January.

On the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission in June, it debuted Sherpa-FX2, its first OTV with electric propulsion.

According to Olcott, the potential to provide “last-kilometer delivery” using propellant space tugs opens up new commercial opportunities for the growing tiny satellite industry.

Learning by Sherpa

“Each of our Sherpa launches this year has provided us with critical learnings that have prepared us to launch Sherpa-LTC1.” In a statement, he added, “It will carry out our first in-space multi-destination mission.”

“Our ability to provide customers with more customizable launch options to meet their mission objectives and get them to their final destination has been validated by this milestone mission.” This was regardless of the fact that there were no launches available at the time that met their unique mission requirements.”

Spaceflight lately disclosed a 4th Sherpa-NG iteration known as Sherpa-ES, specially designed to sway around the moon to offer payloads in geostationary orbit.

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