A service company focused on providing routine low cost space access for small payloads has been formed by Andrews Space.
SpaceFlight Services is kicking off its business venture by signing an agreement with Space Exploration (SpaceX) to manifest payloads using excess capability on upcoming Falcon 9/Dragon missions. SpaceFlight says under this deal customers will have access to multiple scheduled flight opportunities including dedicated scientific free-flyer missions using SpaceX’s DragonLab variant of the Dragon vehicle.
Spare capacity on future Dragon vehicles will be filled by SpaceFlight. (Guy Norris)
SpaceFlight says payload space is being offered on missions in 2012 and beyond. “Our focus is on creating a robust market for the launch of small payloads,” says Jason Andrews, president and CEO of Andrews Space. For the future, SpaceFlight “could include other launch providers, although I believe SpaceX is the most progressive in this area,” he adds.
The company will be a commercial provider of small payload flight services for fixed and deployable cargo and spacecraft. It adds the company will use a process which “allows payloads to be rapidly manifested, certified, integrated and flown to space by simplifying launch integration planning and providing a single customer interface.”
The company will provide standard interface options for a range of small spacecraft, including the CalPoly PPOD canister for CubeSat class spacecraft as well as dispensers to launch 6U, 12U and 24U nano spacecraft. SpaceFlight says it will also provide low shock payload adapter mounts for deployed MicroSats and ESPA-class payloads.
“For the first time customers have regularly scheduled flight opportunities and commercial pricing for small payloads ranging from CubeSats to ESPA class payloads. This will enable a whole new class of missions and technology demonstration flights to rapidly mature technology as well as develop the next generation workforce,” says Andrews. The SpaceFlight concept was launched, he adds, to help pair up secondary payloads with excess payload capability in a more efficient manner – reducing the frequent miss-match between orbital destinations that would prevent shared launches.