Competition for the rising small-satellite launch market continues to ramp up.
Arizona startup Phantom Space just lately threw its hat into the ring, with a plan to launch small payloads often and cost-effectively utilizing mass-manufactured rockets.
Phantom Space aims to begin launching orbital missions in early 2023. And the corporate simply secured some cash to assist it meet this objective — $5 million in seed funding funding, which was simply introduced at this time (April 14).
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“We are proud of our contrarian approach to building rockets and other space transportation technology,” Phantom Space CEO and co-founder Jim Cantrell stated in a press release.
“We want to be the Henry Ford of the space industry with mass production, while others in this space are focused on vertically integrating their technology and supply chain,” Cantrell stated. “At Phantom, to achieve rapid time to market and enabl[e] mass manufacturing, we are leveraging mature supply chains in addition to our own innovations. This allows us to get to orbit faster than ever thought possible.”
Phantom Space is constructing a two-stage, 61-foot-tall (19 meters) rocket referred to as Daytona, which the Tucson-based firm says will likely be in a position to loft 1,000 lbs. (450 kilograms) to low Earth orbit on every $4 million mission.
The expendable Daytona will likely be powered by eight Hadley engines — seven on the primary stage and one on the higher stage. The engines are an instance of Phantom Space’s technique of leveraging externally developed tech; Hadleys are constructed by Denver-based firm Ursa Major Technologies.
Daytona is the primary Phantom Space rocket scheduled to fly — however not the one one, if all goes in accordance to plan. The startup can be growing a extra highly effective rocket referred to as Laguna, which can function a reusable first stage. Laguna will likely be in a position to ship 2,650 lbs. (1,200 kg) to low Earth orbit at a worth of $8 million per launch, in accordance to its specifications page.
Laguna may even make use of Ursa Major engines — one Hadley in the higher stage and three Ripleys in the primary stage.
Phantom Space has entered a crowded subject. California-based Rocket Lab has been launching small satellites to orbit with its Electron booster usually since 2018, and quite a few different firms — together with Astra, Virgin Orbit, Relativity Space, Firefly Aerospace and Orbex — goal to siphon away a few of that enterprise.
And these are simply the devoted rides. Large rockets equivalent to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 additionally host small payloads as “rideshares” on some big-satellite missions, although this feature doesn’t supply the precision supply that Rocket Lab gives and its rivals goal to.
Cantrell is a space-industry veteran. He labored for SpaceX in that firm’s early days, and he co-founded Vector Space Systems in 2016. Like Phantom Space, Vector was primarily based in Tucson and aimed to launch small satellites to orbit. Vector declared chapter in December 2019 however got here again underneath a brand new group lower than a year later; it is now often called Vector Launch. (Cantrell shouldn’t be related to the brand new model of Vector.)
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide in regards to the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.