Hit the ground while running • TechCrunch

Hit the ground while running • TechCrunch

Hit the ground while running • TechCrunch

Hello and welcome to Max Q! We’re getting started at TC HQ, and it looks like the space industry is getting started too – there was a lot of news, which means a lot to cover in this issue! Read on to find out more.

In this problem:

  • A catch-up with Impulse Space
  • SpaceX kicks off 2023 launch with Transporter-6
  • News from Momentus, Indian Space Research Organization and more

Space transportation startup Impulse Space will head to orbit aboard a SpaceX rideshare mission later this year as it seeks to prove its orbital maneuvering and servicing technology for the first time.

While there is always significant pressure ahead of an inaugural demonstration, there will likely be more eyes on Impulse’s mission than usual. That’s partly because the startup is led by former SpaceX propulsion chief Tom Mueller, a formidable engineer who spearheaded the development of the Merlin engine that powers the Falcon 9 rocket – the very rocket that Impulse will use to reach space.

Impulse will first send its first orbital service vehicle into space to test its propulsion, payload delivery and hosting, software, communications and maneuvering capabilities. This spacecraft, called Mira, will participate in SpaceX’s Transporter-9 rideshare mission in the fourth quarter of this year, the company announced today.

Picture credits: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

SpaceX launched more than 100 payloads into orbit on a Falcon 9 last Tuesday, the sixth mission in its small satellite rideshare program. But while the rocket company is now a launch regular — SpaceX just wrapped up a record year with 61 launches in 2022 alone — for a handful of space startups, Transporter-6 marked a milestone.

These startups include Launcher, which is conducting its first space tug mission; Magdrive, which offers an inaugural technology demonstration in orbit; and Epic Aerospace, which also launched a space tug for the first time. Transporter-6 has also carried satellites for Planet Labs and Spire Global, as well as other payloads for scientific, research and commercial customers.

Hit the ground while running • TechCrunch

Picture credits: Pitcher/John Kraus(Opens in a new window)

More news from TC and beyond

  • blue origin may have left a job description for a secret space tug project a little too long… Ars Technica caught wind. (Ars Technica)
  • Intuitive machines will pilot a rover for Japanese robotics company Dymon on its second mission to the moon. The Yaoki rover will head for the lunar south pole on Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander in the second half of this year. (Intuitive machines)
  • Iridium is partnering with Qualcomm to bring satellite connectivity to several new Android-powered smartphones this year. (The Washington Post)
  • of ispace HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander successfully completed its second orbit control maneuver, keeping it on track to hit the moon this spring. (ispace)
  • John Deere is finalizing a satellite partner, as the agricultural machinery company seeks to build its geospatial data product for farmers. (CNBC)
  • Microsoft and the Indian Space Research Organization have signed a memorandum of understanding to give Indian space startups free access to the tech giant’s cloud tools. (Tech Crunch)
  • NorthStar Earth and Space closed a $35 million Series C round for its space-based space situational awareness constellation. The round was led by Cartesian. (North Star)
  • SpaceX raises $750 million at a $137 billion valuation, with Andreessen Horowitz likely leading the round, according to the emails. (CNBC)
  • pristine orbit is eyeing a launch date as early as January 9 for its maiden mission from the UK (and the UK’s first spaceflight, ever). (NewsSpace)
  • Traveler area landed a new partner for its private space station, Starlab: Airbus Defense and Space. Airbus “will provide engineering design support and expertise” for the space station, which Voyager says will launch in 2028. (Voyager)

Max Q is brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodaei. If you enjoy reading Max Q, consider passing it on to a friend.


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