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Payload Mobile

Good morning. Transporter-5 is set to take flight later today. If you’re flying payloads on this SpaceX rideshare mission, there’s really only one question: How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Reply and let us know. 

On a separate note, eagle-eyed Payload readers may have noticed that we’ve been making slight tweaks to the newsletter’s style. We’re excited today to add the final touch (for now) and roll out one of the top requested features: social share buttons. 

You can now share our published articles directly from the newsletter via email forwarding, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, rather than having to go to our website. Confused? We’ll show you how below.

In today’s newsletter:
🎙️ Exolaunch Q+A
🌊 Maritime tracking
💸 The term sheet

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What’s it like micromanaging a SpaceX rideshare?

Image: Exolaunch

Well, why don’t we find out?

Exolaunch is providing launch and deployment services for 21 satellites aboard today’s SpaceX Transporter-5 mission. The German company, which spun out of the Technical University of Berlin in 2013, has deployed 210 satellites to date. 82% of the spacecraft deployed into orbit were cubesats, while the remainder were microsats.

And Exolaunch has certainly earned Transporter frequent flier status. 

“Transporter-5 is our biggest mission yet, in terms of the overall payload mass,” Kier Fortier, director of launch at Exolaunch USA, told Payload.

  • The company has flown on every Transporter mission so far, and is already preparing for Transporter-6, -7, “and beyond,” Fortier said.
  • On Transporter-4, launched last month, Exolaunch deployed 12 satellites for nine countries.
  • Exolaunch is also developing Reliant, an orbital transfer vehicle.

A trio of quotes

Scale: “Step by step, we’re getting to the point where we’re able to launch at least a ton of payloads on every single mission.”

Flying with Soyuz? Negatory. “All our launch efforts are currently focused on Falcon 9, the European middle-class launch vehicles, and several new small launchers in the US and Europe.”

The power of bundling: “Putting missions together like this is the way we’re able to offer such great pricing and flexibility.”

Find the full Q+A online.

Quad Meets in Tokyo

From left to right: Japanese PM Kishida, US Pres. Biden, Indian PM Modi

On Tuesday, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—better known as the Quad—met in Tokyo to discuss how to best deter China. Among other things, Pres. Biden and the leaders of Japan, India, and Australia agreed to launch a satellite tracking initiative to fight back against illegal fishing and trading in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Quad: The security forum began meeting after a decade-long hiatus in 2017 with the goal of maintaining a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” The group meets relatively frequently to go over security initiatives and discuss leading threats and concerns in the region.

The group is not specifically dedicated to countering China. But China is “unilaterally changing the status quo in the East and South China Seas,” Japanese PM Fumio Kishida said, which is raising regional alarm bells.

Maritime security: “Dark shipping” has become a major issue for Indo-Pacific nations. Dark ships are vessels that have turned off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders so they can’t be detected. Satellite imagery could allow countries to better monitor these ships sans AIS.

As part of a more robust science and technology agreement, the four Quad countries pledged to make relevant EO data more accessible to the public. The result: the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA). The agreement will provide a “near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture,” per a White House statement.

IPMDA will create this improved maritime domain awareness through a series of measures:

  1. Making commercially available, unclassified AIS and radio-frequency data in the region available and accessible to partners
  2. Financially supporting data sharing between various information centers
  3. Improving access to satellite imagery through the Quad Satellite Data Portal, which aggregates links to public satellite data.


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Space has a PR and marketing problem. The industry is driving incredible value back to Earth, yet this story is frequently lost in translation before it reaches the general public. 

Join us this Thursday at 2pm EST for a discussion on the value of marketing in commercial space. Ari, our fearless cofounder, will sit down virtually with marketing execs from Firefly, Spire, and the ISS National Lab. 

Together, the group will cover:

🚀 What separates good brands from great brands in the space industry
🚀 How space startups should consider the role a brand plays into their long-term strategy
🚀 The impact of marketing on company culture
🚀 How mainstream advertising can help the commercial space industry
🚀 Real-life case studies from Firefly, Spire, and the ISS National Lab on tapping brand and marketing to create a competitive edge

Sign up here.

In Other News

  • Amazon announced its 2022 AWS Space Accelerator cohort: Albedo, Blue Sky Analytics, EOS Data Analytics, Epsilon3, Kayhan Space, Magdrive, Mission Space, Terradepth, The Exploration Company, and ZaiNar Tech.
  • Boeing’s OFT-2 team is preparing for Starliner’s landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico this evening. 
  • Maxar ($MAXR) imagery shared with CNN appears to show Russian war ships siphoning grain from Ukrainian ports. 
  • SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell wrote to employees that she believes misconduct claims against Elon Musk to be false, CNBC reports. 
  • Firefly Aerospace has shipped its Alpha launch vehicle to Vandenberg.

The Term Sheet

  • Space Perspective raised $17M in new funding from Silicon Valley Bank, Trinity Capital, and investor/philanthropist Henry Kravis. The space balloon tourism company has raised $65M+ to date.
  • Orienspace, a Chinese launcher, secured ~$60M in Series A funding led by HikeCapital.
  • Ubotica Technologies, an Irish “smarts for smart satellites”  startup, raised €4M ($4.2M) in seed funding led by Atlantic Bridge.
  • SpaceX hopes to raise nearly $1.73B in a round that would value the company at $127B.
  • Lunar Outpost raised $12M in seed funding led by Explorer 1 Fund to help build an autonomous lunar rover, Axios reports.
  • Australia’s government announced it will invest $23.6M in the Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub, a $71.4M project led by Electro Optic Systems and Nova Systems.
  • Astrocast, a Switzerland-based satellite IoT provider, intends to IPO on the Euronext Growth Paris market and raise ~€70M ($73.5M).
  • CropSafe, which uses satellite data to inform farmers, raised $3M+ in seed funding led by Elefund.

The View from Space

Image: Boeing. Seen here: NASA’s Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren closing Starliner’s hatch and saying goodbye to Rosie the Rocketeer (a mannequin).