A good plan that Jake of WeMartians fame called months ago. His episode about planetary protection with Dr. Wendy Calvin—a member of the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board that had influence on these changes—is seriously worth a listen.
The rideshare contracts that SMC planned for 6 companies have been withdrawn, but LeoLabs is being awarded a $15 million contract.
I’ve been kicking the news on this one around my head for a bit. I can’t quite come up with a grand unifying theory, but there are a couple of good reasons, though.
Very special thanks to the 422 of you out there supporting Main Engine Cut Off for the month of June. MECO is entirely listener- and reader-supported, so your support keeps this blog and podcast going, growing, and improving, and most importantly, it keeps it independent.
Most interesting is the contract Raytheon won for $37 million, under which they will supply Overhead Persistent Infrared payloads—the same type of payloads they’re supplying for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared missile warning satellites.
Relativity now has a hell of a backlog, plenty of facilities, and the holy grail that is both an east and west coast launch site, if they can successfully build one at Vandenberg. I honestly wouldn’t bet on the latter.
Intelsat ordered four from Maxar and two from Northrop Grumman, while SES ordered two each from Boeing and Northrop Grumman with two more yet to be announced. This is huge for satellite manufacturers who have been hurting in recent years after a dip in orders. This is all in preparation for clearing C-band spectrum that has been reallocated towards 5G deployment in the US and will be auctioned off late this year.
It was never a question that Spaceflight would be interested in the SpaceX rideshare program. It’s a perfect match—inexpensive slots offered by SpaceX which can be taken advantage of to sell the end-to-end services offered by Spaceflight at a solid margin. They’re also manifesting two BlackSky satellites on the next Starlink flight, just like we saw a few days ago with Planet flying SkySats on the previous flight.
Still a long way to go on this, but this has been part of the work the Space Acquisition Council has been doing to try and stabilize small launch providers through the economic instability of recent months. They’re purchasing two rideshare launches from each of the following: Aevum, Astra, X-BOW, Rocket Lab, Space Vector, VOX Space (Virgin Orbit).
Big podcasting week. I just posted an episode here, had NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Off-Nominal, and I also appeared on my friend Brendan Byrne’s Are We There Yet? podcast, as well.