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.”
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.