Vector Space Systems is a new aerospace company aimed at launching microsatellites to space. The fledgling business is headed by two of the people who founded private launch firm, SpaceX. Other professionals taking part in the new venture were previously involved with Virgin Galactic, Sea Launch, and McDonnell Douglas.
Microsatellites are the primary focus of the company, which is aiming at providing dedicated launches of small payloads for just $2 million. Launch could take place in a short period of time after being booked by a client, who will be able to select their desired orbit.
"This will be the only launch system dedicated to micro spacecraft and will allow you to launch your satellite when you want and to your choice of orbit. Today, all micro satellites launch as Rideshare payloads and cannot choose either the time of launch nor the destination. Worse, Rideshare payloads are often forced to wait 2-3 years for a bus ride to space and have a very limited choice of destinations," Vector Space Systems wrote on their website.
The Vector launch vehicle will be able to deliver a 100-pound satellite to an altitude of 125 miles above the Earth. A payload just over half that weight could be lifted to an orbit of 250 miles. The rocket, powered by an engine fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen, will take off from spaceports in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Kodiak, Alaska.
The rocket made, in part, from carbon fibers, has been under development for several years. The first of its two stages is reusable, lowering costs of repeated launches.
"We see innovation and value creation being the strongest in the Micro Satellite sector and Vector Space Systems will create a development platform that will foster this innovation and bring the reality of space to a much larger pool of entrepreneurs who don't need to be space experts," Jim Cantrell, former founding member of SpaceX, said.
Joining Cantrell at Vector is John Garvey from SpaceX, who is functioning as chief technology officer (CTO) of the new company.
Lowering costs of ferrying microsatellites into space could allow small businesses, private colleges and many individuals to put their own satellites into orbit. By thinking small - payloads will weigh just a few dozen pounds - these space executives may be able to make big dreams come true.