Momentus Space Tug Works Through Anomalies, Deploys Four More Sats

Momentus gathers lessons learned from Vigoride-3 mission anomalies.
Credit: Momentus

Momentus’s Vigoride-3 deployed four additional satellites to low Earth orbit in July as the company works through anomalies discovered shortly after launching the space tug in May.

The startup is working to deploy the three remaining satellites on Vigoride, it said on Aug. 2. Despite technical issues, Momentus was able to initially deploy two satellites from Vigoride in late May. 

Vigoride-3 is an orbital transfer to low Earth orbit demonstration mission. It was launched into space aboard the SpaceX Transporter-5 mission on May 25.

Vigoride ran into trouble shortly after launch when its deployable solar panels “did not operate as intended in orbit,” Momentus said in June. The startup said that caused power and communications problems with the vehicle. Vigoride’s body-mounted solar panels operated as intended, it says.

Customer payloads on Vigoride include multiple picosatellites from FOSSA Systems, which are part of an Internet-of-Things constellation intended to connect to industrial equipment on Earth; and Orbit NTNU’s SelfieSat, a small satellite that has an external screen that displays pictures sent up by the public while a camera mounted on an arm photographs the screen with the Earth in the background. Momentus did not disclose which satellites have been deployed from Vigoride.

Momentus says it has identified the root cause of Vigoride’s anomalies, though it did not disclose what went wrong. The company says its findings were confirmed by an “independent review team of highly experienced space experts.”

“We learned a lot from our first Vigoride demonstration mission already and intend to learn everything we can before the mission is over,” Momentus CEO John Rood says.

Changes are being made for the Vigoride-5 vehicle mission that is planned to fly on the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission schedule for November, he adds. The company is planning another Vigoride mission in 2023.

Garrett Reim

Based in the Seattle area, Garrett covers the space sector and advanced technologies that are shaping the future of aerospace and defense, including space startups, advanced air mobility and artificial intelligence.