Spaceflight secures Nasa contract to launch 24 U-Class payloads


US-based satellite rideshare and mission management provider Spaceflight has won a contract from Nasa to launch up to 24 U-Class payloads.

The contracted launch procedure has a potential value of more than $5m and is expected to be carried out next year.

The multi-year deal also includes options for the launch of up to 24 additional payloads, which are slated to be lifted off by 2019 and 2020.

U-Class payloads are small space research satellites that typically use unique and commercial electronic components.

The majority of Nasa’s U-Class payloads are developed by universities and non-profit organisations, and are designed to play significant roles in Nasa’s technological development.

They are equipped to carry out a variety of investigations, including planetary exploration, Earth observation, and fundamental Earth and space science.

Spaceflight president Curt Blake said: “We’re pleased to work with Nasa on these cubesat missions as it further validates our rideshare business model of providing frequent, cost-effective access to space.

"We’re pleased to work with Nasa on these cubesat missions as it further validates our rideshare business model of providing frequent, cost-effective access to space."

“Not only can commercial entities benefit from this new shared-space economy, but governmental agencies are quickly realising the economies of it as well.”

Spaceflight further noted that the ‘rideshare service’ model is capable of offering more options for organisations to reach a desired orbital position at a reduced cost compared to buying their own launch vehicle.

The company works with various orbital launch vehicle providers such as Falcon 9, PSLV, Dnepr, Antares, Cygnus, Electron, Soyuz and others to provide its services.

Spaceflight previously acquired an Electron rocket from Rocket Lab in May to increase the frequency of its dedicated rideshare missions.


Image: Spaceflight to launch up to 24 U-Class payloads for Nasa. Photo: courtesy of Spaceflight Industries.