Benchmark to Deliver Propulsion for Spaceflight's Sherpa-NG

Benchmark to Deliver Propulsion for Spaceflight's Sherpa-NG

Benchmark intends to prove its propulsion technology in flight for the first time later this year. The company’s Starling warm-gas thruster is slated to launch in October on a cubesat riding on the maiden flight of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

FREMONT, CA: Satellite propulsion startup Benchmark Space Systems declared an agreement August 5 to provide non-toxic chemical propulsion for rideshare provider Spaceflight’s next-generation orbital transfer vehicle, Sherpa-NG.

Around the same time, Burlington, Vermont-based Benchmark disclosed a permanent licensing partnership with Tesseract Space, a California propulsion startup. As part of the deal, Vermont-based Benchmark will be responsible for integrating Tesseract’s intellectual property, assets and staff to further its goal of providing non-toxic chemical propulsion for the global small satellite market.

The partnership with Tesseract would help Benchmark provide a broad range of non-toxic propulsion systems for satellites ranging in size from one-unit cubesats to Spaceflight’s Sherpa-NG.

After closing the deal with Tesseract, Benchmark raised over $3 million in a capital campaign completed in May. With the new funding, Benchmark would expand its staff of 21 employees.

Benchmark intends to prove its propulsion technology in flight for the first time later this year. The company’s Starling warm-gas thruster is slated to launch in October on a cubesat riding on the maiden flight of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Benchmark’s Halcyon high-test peroxide thruster is anticipated to reach orbit for the first time in December.

Benchmark, established in 2017, is focused on helping rideshare flight customers reach and maintain their desired orbits. Besides this, Benchmark thrusters can support satellites to move out of orbit when their missions conclude.

At the Small Satellite Conference in 2019, Arianespace and SpaceX revealed plans for dedicated small satellite launches. That news has changed the small satellite propulsion market by creating demand for services and thrusters to provide spacecraft to their ultimate destinations.

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