Satellite Building Startup Still Searching for Customer for OmegaA's First Flight

Satellite Building Startup Still Searching for Customer for OmegaA's First Flight

Saturn targets small scale national customers and small geostationary satellites for customers that can’t afford or justify a traditional, multi-ton communications satellite. Saturn's first NationSat satellite is for a Moscow-based client Intersputnik, scheduled to launch on a shared SpaceX Falcon 9 mission, which has been postponed from 2020 to 2021

Fremont, CA: Satellite building startup Saturn Satellite Networks is yet to close a deal with a customer for the small geostationary spacecraft it has booked aboard the inaugural launch of Northrop Grumman's OmegaA rocket. The company believes that by reserving the rocket for the 2021 mission, it can save time down the road and provide its customers with a one-stop-shop. Northrop Grumman had earlier announced that Saturn had agreed with them to launch one or two of its NationSat line of small geostationary communications satellites on the maiden flight of OmegA. The rocket runs on solid fuels, which Northrop is building in an attempt to land U.S. national security missions.

“Part of our objective is to provide delivery in orbit of our satellite systems,” said Jim Simpson, CEO, Saturn Satellite Networks. “As such, it’s very incumbent upon Saturn to secure multiple launch options to give customers multiple alternatives at the lowest possible cost.” Launched in 2019, the company targets small scale national customers and small geostationary satellites for customers that can’t afford or justify a traditional, multi-ton communications satellite. Saturn's first NationSat satellite is for a Moscow-based client Intersputnik, scheduled to launch on a shared SpaceX Falcon 9 mission, which has been postponed from 2020 to 2021.

According to Simpson, Saturn will retain ownership of the satellite but will lease the capacity to Intersputnik for the lifetime of the spacecraft. The company shall be providing lifetime capacity leases or full ownership of satellites depending on customer preferences and regulatory restrictions. The startup is also close to clinching a second NationSat customer. However, whether the new customer will be assigned to the OmegaA or another rocket is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, according to Charlie Precourt, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of propulsion systems, the company has a backup plan in place in case Saturn’s satellites don’t come through in time. "Northrop Grumman is counting on Saturn to fill one of two certification flights it needs to fly to qualify OmegA for U.S. national security launches. Those are details that we’ve worked with them behind the scenes,” Precourt said. “But our first focus is with the Air Force.”

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