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Momentus postpones Vigoride’s first launch

Due to delays in conducting an interagency review, in-space transportation contractor Momentus is postponing its first commercial mission that was intended to fly on Falcon 9 of SpaceX later in the month. Momentus stated in a January 4 announcement that the flight of the first Vigoride tug that was to be one of the payloads launched on the Falcon 9 dedicated rideshare flight as early as January 14 would be postponed to later this year because it’s unable to gain clearance for the flight from Federal Aviation Administration. “This move would allow the required additional time to obtain FAA approval of the payloads of Momentus, such as completion of a regular interagency analysis, “the company stated.”

The firm did not provide details on that analysis. Still, part of FAA commercial launch permitting process is an evaluation of the payload described by the agency as expected “to assess if its deployment will negatively impact the interests of public safety, property security, United States national security or even the foreign policy, or United States international obligations. President of Momentus, Fred Kennedy, said in a January 5 document submitted with Securities and Exchange Commission in an interview that there was no particular problem that postponed the investigation.

He continued that for other permits that it requires, like one from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that permits a camera on the Vigoride vehicle, which is part of the commercial remote sensing legislation, the organization has undergone interagency assessments. Kennedy stated Momentus Company “recently cleared an interagency evaluation” for that license, as well as Momentus, is listed among the businesses with the commercial remote sensing license on NOAA website. The payloads on this mission, identified as Vigoride-1 or VR-1, were not announced by Momentus in its statement.

However, in a June filing by the Federal Communications Commission, the firm said the spacecraft would accommodate five cubesats of Aurora Propulsion Technologies, SpaceManic, SatRevolution and Steamjet Space Systems, varying in scale from 1.8 to 4.4 kg each. In the FCC filing, Momentus Company said that at an altitude of around 525 kilometres, Vigoride-1 would be emitted from the upper stage of Falcon 9 in the sun-synchronous orbit. To lift its orbit to around 570 kilometres, Vigoride-1 will then use onboard propulsion and later deploy the payloads. Vigoride-1 will then conduct a deorbit maneuver to lower its perigee to a minimum of 300 kilometers, allowing for reentry within a year.

One of those clients said that, despite the postponement, they would continue to partner with Momentus. ” We remain focused to the value-add transport as well as utility network of Momentus,” stated Grzegorz Zwolinski, SatRevolution’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, in the Vigoride-1 delay declaration of Momentus.  The interruption in the Vigoride-1 deployment, Momentus noted, would not impact its financial forecasts for the year. The corporation expected sales of $20 million in the year 2021, but $46 million loss for the year, in a presentation of the investors filed with the SEC on December 14.