SITAEL selects Virgin Orbit to launch µHETsat mission


Italy-based space company SITAEL has entered a launch service contract with Virgin Orbit to launch its new small μHETsat satellite into space.

The agreement will see the satellite launched using Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.

Co-developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian Space Agency (ASI), μHETsat was designed to demonstrate a new electric propulsion system for both space agencies.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: “Opening access to space is an incredible opportunity to bring together governments around the world with commercial enterprises.

“Collaborative efforts like ours will enable cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit missions and beyond.”

“Opening access to space is an incredible opportunity to bring together governments around the world with commercial enterprises."

The LauncherOne is capable of placing small satellites weighing up to 500kg into various positions at low-Earth orbits (LEO).

Currently under development, the rocket will be designed to conduct a launch after reaching an altitude of 35,000ft by carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl.

SITAEL CEO Nicola Zaccheo said: “The satellite, developed in partnership with ASI and ESA, is the first all-electric microsatellite ever in space, validating both the SITAEL bus (S-75 platform) and SITAEL low-power Hall Effect Thruster (HT100).”

Employing more than 350 people, SITAEL is currently engaged in the design, development and production of small satellites, advanced propulsion systems, instruments and avionics.


Image: Deal signing between SITAEL and Virgin Orbit representatives. Photo: courtesy of SITAEL.