Posted on July 10th, 2018

Out of this World – Small Sats and Smart Parts

The barrier to space is nearly impenetrable. The cost, time and energy to get even small satellites into space is enormous. Aevum is looking to revolutionize this technology using unmanned aircraft to launch a rocket into space. Their goal is to execute space launches every three hours with a crew of six people prepping the cargo and planes. The planes are designed for rocket separation and atmospheric flight without the need for a pilot.

Aevum is looking to streamline the process of getting satellites into space, reducing the time and cost it takes to transport. They have built and tested a prototype system. The autonomous flight software has 640 flights already logged. By 2019, Aevum plans to have the plane flight tested. If this goes well, they have three planned launches for the end of 2019. They are ambitiously taking orders for these planned launches, set to take place just over a year away.

A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment.

While Aevum is letting it be known that they are ready to play ball, another company is playing it close to the chest. SpinLaunch has raised $40 million dollars for a super-secret project that claims to revolutionize small satellite orbit insertion. The few statements made on how the system will work doesn’t provide many details. The name implies some level of spinning and launching. Like some kind of tilt-a-whirl or maybe a Ferris wheel with a catapult. If you’d like to see a single page website with a phone number and login you can check it out here. Sounds cool, ay?

The target launch date for the aircraft or launch vehicle or satellite sling is 2022. Meanwhile, we must await the masked sling shot with bated breath.

While we’re on the topic of commercial space whiz-bangs, we might as well talk about space manufacturing. I don’t mean making materials and components for use in space but the other way around. Materials and products made in space for commercial sale back on terra firma. Microgravity provides a unique environment for particular use cases that are susceptible to the negative effects gravity can have on materials. One example is VBLAN cables, a fiber optic cable that when made in space doesn’t develop crystals that distort signals. Any molecules or metal alloys that struggle to bond due to weight differences between the elements would also benefit from this environment. Researchers are also looking at printing human organs in space. NASA has a competition that challenges researchers to come up with a way to create human tissue in a lab environment.

If you add these two topics together and give it a decade, it’s easy to see a brave new world of monetizing space.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163
katie@apollomapping.com

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