Startups prepare to go into space for the first time in SpaceX’s Transporter 6 mission • TechCrunch

SpaceX will launch 114 payloads to orbit tomorrow morning aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. This sixth mission of its small flight sharing program is SpaceX’s sixth. But while the rocket company is now an old hand in launches — SpaceX just completed a record year with 61 launches in 2022 alone — for a handful of startups in space, Transporter-6 marks a milestone.

These include startups launcherThe company is currently conducting its first space tug mission. An introductory technical presentation in orbit by shovel; and the Space epicThis launch also marks the first time a space tug has been launched.

TechCrunch spoke to Max Haot, Launcher CEO. The company saw a huge market for space locomotive development following the launch of SpaceX’s rideshare software. This dramatically reduced launch costs. Launcher’s tug Orbiter, which is named after Max Haot, will deploy the payload or host it for ten different clients. The company is also working on a small launch vehicle. The orbiter will be its 3rd stage.

Haot stated that space tugs are a part of the market for customers who require a specific orbit, but don’t want to pay the same price as launching a dedicated rocket.

“There is always a need to have a dedicated rocket eventually if there are specific orbits at a higher cost, and eventually we will compete there. But the space tug really helps make these ridesharing flights more beneficial because you can get to multiple orbits,” he stated.

Launcher is not the only company that has its eyes on the space tug market. Epic Aerospace, which is a space transportation firm, will launch a locomotive aboard the Transporter-6. Exolaunch, D-Orbit and Momentus will also deploy or host satellites for customers on this mission.

Although it may appear that space tug is already crowded, Haot said that the ultimate winners of the market are yet to be determined.

Credits for the image: launcher / john krauss / Flickr (opens in a new window)

“If you look at press reports, it looks like a lot of companies are building space tugs. However, if you look at the customers, it’s still very new and no one has actually demonstrated significant hauling capability that is useful for satellite companies.

Magdrive, a UK-based startup, is going into space to demonstrate its technology. A typical propulsion system would draw power directly from the onboard solar panels and store it. Then, it would dump it at different power levels.

Magdrive CEO Mark Stokes stated that the job will take 12 months. However, he said that he aims to test as many charging and discharge options as possible to get as much data as possible.

Space Force Station Cape Canaveral will launch Transporter-6 at 9:56 AM EST. This will mark the 15th flight by the Falcon 9 booster (baptized B1060). Transporter-6 will also transport satellites for Planet Labs, Spire Global, and other payloads for scientific and commercial customers.

The launch will be live broadcast on the SpaceX website.

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