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SpaceX Launches 8th Payload Rideshare Mission
PLUS: Beautiful pictures of distant nebulas
Good morning Earthlings 👽️ 🖖
Have you heard of space manufacturing? Satellite tow-trucks? Well, humans just successfully launched both into space - we’re turning ideas of science fiction into a reality.
In today's edition of Earthlings...
🚀 SpaceX rideshare mission brings manufacturing to space
☢️ Airbus Ventures funds radiation tech startup
💫 Beautiful pictures of distant nebulas
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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket flexed its muscles yet again. On the evening of June 12, the Transporter-8 mission launched dozens of smallsats (i.e., “small satellites”) on a dedicated rideshare mission with customers ranging from the U.S. Space Force to startups deploying their first satellites in space. Ever since SpaceX launched the first of these rideshare missions, Transporter-1 in January 2021, the launch veteran is now striking a regular launch cadence, providing reliable and cost-effective means to get payload into orbit.
First up, Transporter-8 delivered payloads for a couple of old pros who've been to space a time or two:
Spire Global Inc. dropped off three CubeSats aimed at collecting weather and tracking data, making meteorologists everywhere giddy (maybe because they’ll actually predict the weather correctly for once). Spire is an American private company also analyzes data from ships and aircraft, enabling advanced maritime, aviation, and weather tracking capabilities.
Satellogic brought up four optical and hyperspectral imaging satellites to further bolster their existing constellation. Hyperspectral imaging refers to detailed information about the chemical composition of materials. They are an Argentinian company aiming to capture every square meter of the Earth's surface using hyperspectral imaging satellites and analytics. The company is similar to Pixxel, an Indian startup that recently raised a Series A to tackle a similar mission.
The rideshare mission also welcomed some exciting new-comers:
Varda Space Industries debuted its W-Series 1 spacecraft, built by Rocket Lab. Their mission is fascinating: manufacturing high-value biopharmaceutical products in space, getting the payload safety back to Earth, and selling to both commercial and government customers. Varda’s W-Series 1 spacecraft will test the predicted efficiency of manufacturing high-value products in space, potentially opening new avenues for what’s dubbed, the “Space to Earth” economy. Delian Asparouhov, Co-Founder, Chairman, and President at Varda, outlines the vision for Varda at a fireside chat, and Packy McCormick released an excellent deep-dive into the company’s founding and future, Varda: The Space Drug Factory.
TIME TO MAKE SOME DRUGS AND LAND THEM IN UTAH
Starfish Space launched their Otter Pup satellite, which will provide in-orbit servicing, debris mitigation, and satellite life extension of other satellites currently in space. Think of Starfish as a cosmic pit crew designed to rendezvous with satellites, perform repairs, or even relocate them. This Otter Pup is a demo version of a larger, full-sized Otter servicer, and Starfish will now be able to perform a series of docking maneuvers to test their innovation.
SpaceX has attracted significant demand for its Transporter missions, offering launches three to four times a year. The company’s website, which lists available launch slots and prices, suggests its Transporter missions are fully booked until the second quarter of 2025. The launch itself was yet another a milestone for SpaceX, marking the 200th landing of a Falcon booster to date.
Space is a harsh environment for electronic circuits, especially since radiation causes short circuits that could result in mission failure, says Hwai Lin Khor, vice president of Zero-Error Systems (ZES). ZES is a Singapore-based startup that just raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Airbus Ventures, bringing its total capital raised to approximately $10 million.
ZES manufactures radiation-hardened integrated circuits and can be likened to a form of "radiation insurance" for space operations. Its target customers include satellite systems, space electronics manufacturers, and even earth applications exposed to radiation, such as nuclear reactors.
“Many aerospace companies rely on Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) semiconductor devices for their satellite electronics systems, which are not designed to withstand the harsh conditions of space,” explains Dr. Shu Wei, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of ZES. According to Dr. Shu Wei, the COTS chip devices can’t meet the radiation performance needed in space, causing system failure and data corruption. Single event effects are often overlooked but remain a critical aspect of radiation exposure, and ZES's patented technology acts as a self-aware circuit breaker, powering down during radiation events and back up when conditions normalize. Dr. Shu Wei claims, “Our capabilities address essential power reliability and data integrity concerns by safeguarding COTS semiconductor devices from malfunctions."
Backed by influential investors such as Airbus Ventures and the Dart Family Office, based in Singapore, ZES is set to make strides in the US and European markets. The expansion signals a new era of safety for space travel and satellite technology, highlighting ZES's crucial role in managing the risks of operating in the unforgiving environment of space.
Courtesy of Live Science, here are three eye-popping pictures of nebulas in our universe. No more reading beyond this point.
📰 In Other News…
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could gain a new role in space traffic management according to a bill introduced in the House (SpaceNews.com)
The U.S Space Force says it’s investing in early-stage satellite-servicing technologies and laying out a strategy to buy commercial services to refuel and service satellites in geostationary orbit by the early 2030s (SpaceNews.com)
Japan is is working on legislation to allow Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to invest in private businesses (Nikkei Asia)
🐦 Tweet of the Day
Bezos on experimental vs operational failure. Simple and elegant comparison. https://t.co/ZQ5xVZ9bpi
🤖 AI Art of the Day
That’s it for today, Earthlings.
Thanks for reading - and we’ll see you next time! 🧑🚀