Arianespace and D-Orbit announced today the signature of an agreement to offer InOrbit NOW launch and deployment service through the launch of D-Orbit’s ION CubeSat Carrier on the Vega launch vehicle, as part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) Proof Of Concept flight (POC flight).
D-Orbit’s ION CubeSat Carrier, a free flying CubeSat deployer and technology demonstrator, will be launched on Vega in 2019 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The CubeSat carrier will host several CubeSats to be deployed once in orbit.
D-Orbit’s InOrbit NOW is a revolutionary launch and deployment service designed to transport CubeSats to space and release them into independent orbital slots.
Arianespace’s launch contract with D-Orbit includes a significant number of CubeSats with an overall separated mass of about 100 kg. Positioned in a sun-synchronous orbit at 500 km., ION CubeSat Carrier will deploy the hosted CubeSats along the orbit over a period of approximately one month. After completing the CubeSat deployment phase, ION CubeSat Carrier will initiate the inorbit validation phase of payloads directly integrated on the platform.
The Vega POC flight will be the first mission of the SSMS, a modular carbon fiber dispenser, a program initiated by ESA in 2016, with the contribution of the European Commission. For all the European partners involved, its purpose is to address the burgeoning institutional and commercial small spacecraft market with a new rideshare concept.
Vega is part of the Arianespace launcher family, alongside the Ariane 5 heavy launcher and the Soyuz medium launcher, operated from the Guiana Space Center. Based in Colleferro, Italy, Avio is the industrial prime contractor for Vega.
After the signature of the contract, D-Orbit’s Chief Executive Officer Luca Rossettini said: “We are proud to partner with Arianespace for our first InOrbit NOW mission. The exponential growth of nanosatellite launch demand is just the beginning of a new space era and a beneficial space economy. ION CubeSat Carrier is the first transportation vehicle for nanosats that expand the launch service to a sort of door-to-door delivery, and it is also the perfect platform for in-orbit demonstration and validation experiments. Nanosatellites are creating a convergence between innovative technology, space heritage, and commercial opportunities: the collaboration between D-Orbit and Arianespace will further this convergence.”
“We are honored D-Orbit selected us to launch the InOrbit NOW payload on the Vega’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) Proof of Concept flight. It is the first time our two companies have collaborated on a launch, and we fully plan to justify their confidence in us. Arianespace is proud to offer innovative launch solutions targeting the fast-growing smallsat market segment and enabling the success of CubeSat integrators and technology demonstrators. Our Vega is perfectly adapted to deliver for this promising market," said Stephane Israël, CEO of Arianespace.