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Momentus Manages to Deploy Two Customer Satellites from Malfunctioning Vigoride OTV

By | June 13, 2022

A rendering of Momentus’ Vigoride in-space shuttle. Photo: Momentus

Momentus reported late Monday that it was able to deploy two  customer satellites from its Vigoride demonstration orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), which experienced several anomalies after its launch. The U.S. space infrastructure company said it is continuing efforts to deploy other customer satellites from Vigoride, but have not confirmed any subsequent deployments.

“While we previously established two-way communications with the Vigoride vehicle, we have not been able to continue such two-way communication, which we believe is due to the low power situation on the vehicle due to the deployable solar arrays not operating as intended,” Momentus said in Monday’s update, adding that it received FCC approval for a 30-day Special Temporary Authority (STA) to utilize different frequencies to communicate with the spacecraft.

The company also said it utilized a second port on the launch vehicle, as well as third party hardware to deploy another customer satellite in orbit. “Using this hardware, our partner deployed four other satellites for their customers during this launch,” the company said.

Momentus sent the Vigoride demo mission to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission  on May 25. The launch was critical for the company after it was delayed for regulatory concerns. In its initial report of the anomalies on May 27, Momentus said that Vigoride’s deployable solar arrays did not operate as intended once in orbit.

“This resulted in power and communications issues with the vehicle, even though the body mounted solar panels did operate as intended,” the company said. “We have been working closely with [the solar array manufacturer], and in collaboration with that company have identified what we believe is the root cause of the arrays not operating as intended. We also believe we have identified the likely root cause of the other anomalies, although further analysis continues.”

Momentus CEO John Rood said the company’s plans for additional launches of the Vigoride vehicle later this year and in 2023 remain on schedule with SpaceX for missions in 2022 and 2023, including Transporter 6 currently targeted for November 2022.

Correction – An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Ascent Solar as the producer of the solar arrays for this mission. None of Ascent Solar’s products were on this particular mission.