After delays with its intended launch on a Momentus tug, a Finnish cubesat intended to evaluate deorbiting satellite technologies will fly on a Rocket Lab Electron. The AuroraSat-1 satellite will be launched on the Electron in the 4th quarter of the year 2021, according to a deal signed by Rocket Lab and Aurora Propulsion Technologies on August 16. The specifics of the launch deal were not disclosed by the firms.
AuroraSat-1, which is a 1.5-unit cubesat that the business created in collaboration with SatRevolution, a Polish smallsat startup. The spacecraft will be used to test a resistojet propulsion system and a charged “microtether” that will induce electromagnetic drag as well as lower the spacecraft’s orbit, a technology that might be utilized to deorbit satellites.
The launch opportunity was not disclosed by Rocket Lab. Still, given the spacecraft’s modest size, it is likely to be carried as the secondary payload on another flight or as a portion of the cluster of smallsats.
Roope Takala, CEO of the Aurora Propulsion Technologies, stated in a statement about the contract, “After prior launch arrangements fell through, we highly value Rocket Lab’s ability to deliver a launch in a flight window commencing just 3 months from the originally scheduled launch date.” “Thanks to Rocket Lab’s prompt response, we will be able to space-prove our technology this year and stay on track with our expansion plans.”
Rocket Lab merely noted in the statement that the satellite was initially supposed to be launched on “a separate rocket and the orbital transfer vehicle.” This satellite was declared to deploy on the very first Vigoride tug by the Momentus company in December 2020 and was then slated to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in January 2021.
Momentus, however, was unable to complete the payload evaluation required for the launch by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and the mission was rescheduled for another Falcon 9 rideshare flight in June. The payload evaluation for the June launch was denied by the FAA, citing national security concerns about the company’s Russian co-founders. Momentus currently plans to deploy its first-ever Vigoride tug no sooner than June 2022, following the implementation of a national security accord aimed at addressing earlier concerns.
Because of the delays, John Rood, the CEO of Momentus, revealed in a recent interview that some clients had decided to look for other launch options. He remarked, “We’re still getting a lot of interest in what we’re doing.” “They want to work with us and get a ride, but it’s an issue of trying to gain a better idea of the timeframe.”