Space transportation company Momentus has completed thermal vacuum testing of its first space vehicle called Vigoride in advance of its planned launch in June.
The California, USA-based startup, which was launched in 2017, plans to offer in-space infrastructure services, transportation, hosted payloads and in-orbit services using the space tug.
The company is developing a water plasma-based propulsion system for Vigoride. It plans to launch the first Vigoride to Low Earth Orbit on a SpaceX rocket this June to flight test the spacecraft.
Thermal Vacuum Testing (TVAC) allows for the simulation of space conditions, including the temperature and altitude that the Vigoride spacecraft will experience during its mission.
Rob Schwarz, Momentus’ chief technology officer said, “The TVAC campaign put our Vigoride vehicle to the test in conditions that closely simulate the space environment.
“TVAC coupled with our testing of the avionics, propulsion, and software helps ensure that all Vigoride spacecraft systems are ready for operation in space.”
The next steps for the team include conducting follow-on testing of specific vehicle components to address findings from the TVAC testing.
“We test to learn, push, advance our technology, and find anything to address prior to launch,” said Schwarz. “The few test anomalies we experienced during TVAC, particularly for a development program, is a testament to the diligence of a talented team.”
Vigoride is also undergoing preparation for vibration testing to verify that all systems are ready for the launch environment. Vibration testing will be the final phase of the ground test campaign before the vehicle is shipped to be launched.
Momentus first Vigoride mission in June aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle depends on the company receiving the appropriate government licensing. One of these necesscary licences was received last week, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office for Vigoride’s satellite system remote-sensing license.
“I’m very proud of the tremendous efforts put in by the entire team,” said Momentus chairman and CEO John Rood. “We’re getting into a cadence that people with space experience will recognize and appreciate. That activities like pre-launch testing and working through licensing processes are becoming the norm for us illustrates the company’s strides since going public last August.”
Momentus must also receive licences from the FAA before it can launch Vigoride.