Good morning, and happy Tuesday. The Payload team is back from our offsite; Pathfinder is back with a very special, no-holds-barred guest; and we’re going back to the Moon as early as ~16 hours from now. Nature is healing.
In today's newsletter:
⚙️ Kayhan x Morpheus
🎧 Pathfinder #0024
🔁 On the move
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One-Click Collision Avoidance
Kayhan Space and Morpheus Space have teamed up to offer their customers automated collision avoidance maneuvers, the two companies announced this morning.
By pairing Kayhan’s space traffic management (STM) software, Pathfinder, with Morpheus’ pay-as-you-go propulsion, the companies hope they can make it simpler for satellite operators to prevent space from getting mucked up.
“We want to make sure that every satellite that launches has a feasible option to be maneuverable,” Kayhan Space CTO Araz Feyzi told Payload. “Because, you're not going up there for three months and coming back. You are going to be in an environment where dynamics will change greatly.”
Kayhan’s piece: The STM company currently operates a collision avoidance software called Pathfinder. Customers receive conjunction notifications through the platform, and when a maneuver is needed, Pathfinder will pull together possible options and select the best ones so that all an operator has to do is choose and execute.
“The idea is…to put everything on autopilot so you can focus on whatever your core mission is,” Feyzi said.
Morpheus’ piece: The German propulsion startup offers what it calls “mobility as a service.” Customers can purchase one or more of its electric thrusters for a relatively small fee to attach to their satellites. Then, once the craft is in space, customers can use Morpheus’ platform to schedule maneuvers and pay for the fuel used with each maneuver.
A match made in heaven: The two companies are joining forces to practically automate collision avoidance maneuvering.
Feyzi says that it’ll be as easy as making one click in Morpheus’ software. Operators will receive a conjunction notification via Pathfinder, as well as potential maneuver options. Morpheus’ platform will determine how much each possible maneuver will cost. The operator can then choose a maneuver, pay for it on the platform, and send the electric thrusters a signal to fire. “That’s how easy we’re making it,” Feyzi said.
The companies are hoping that operators will take advantage of this service as an inexpensive insurance policy for satellites that may not be able to avoid collisions otherwise.
“You may not need it for years, but the moment you need it, it is there and it's ready for you,” Feyzi said.
Looking ahead…The first mission to take advantage of this collaboration is slated to fly in Q1 2023 for an undisclosed customer.
Pathfinder 0024, featuring Bill Perkins
Today’s guest is Bill Perkins, a hedge fund manager, film producer, high-stakes poker player, and author of Die with Zero. If he wasn’t in those lines of work, Bill tells Ryan he’d be a farmer.
More importantly for our purposes, Bill is the founder of SkyFi. The startup doesn’t fly its own satellites, and is instead tackling what it sees as a software problem.
SkyFi is developing a clean, consumerized experience for buying satellite imagery through a web browser or smartphone app.
- Behind the scenes, SkyFi’s platform pulls from 70+ satellites and leverages partnerships with more than a dozen EO partners.
- The marketplace supports (or will support) high-res satellite imagery, night, hyperspectral, satellite video, SAR, and stereo. Prices start at $20 for an existing image and $175 for a new one.
- The app is in beta, with a global launch slated for next year.
A sneak peek into our discussion
- Life as an energy trader, what types of data funds are buying to gain an investing edge, and how it all ties into the origin story of SkyFi
- Bill’s frustrations buying millions in satellite imagery—and the industry status quo in sales cycles, target customers, and user experience
- Bringing on Luke Fischer and handing him the reins as CEO, raising venture money, and recruiting from non-traditional space backgrounds
- Is SkyFi a consumer-focused venture? Who will use the product? Why would anyone use it?
- The pitch to partners and how SkyFi signs on satellite operators
- Putting satellite imagery, data, and analytics into the hands of the geniuses of the world will help us solve “intractable problems,” like pollution, deforestation, and illegal fishing
- Sci-fi, wakeboarding, aliens, and the answer to: “Why are you building an Android app?” (Editor’s note/trigger warning: Both Bill and Ryan use Androids.)
This convo was a fun one that you won’t want to miss. Just don’t listen to this episode at 2X speed.
How to get Pathfinder #0024
Join The Kepler Network
Kepler is simplifying access to space generated data by developing a next-generation constellation of satellites to act as a data relay in space, positioned to support the exponential growth of space communications.
Kepler’s constellation will provide the infrastructure to support the industry's current and future communication needs with a unique combination of RF, optical, and ground antennas to cover a wide scope of mission requirements.
The Kepler Network will provide a turnkey solution for space operators, increasing access to space-generated data by enabling inter-satellite communications and providing highspeed data rates to rapidly downlink on-orbit data.
The network will expand your mission potential and provide smarter solutions to global gaps in space communications.
Register For Tomorrow's Webinar
The Payload team is excited to be hosting a webinar on space mission management. In this conversation, we'll cover how private space companies are managing their missions today, what best practices leaders lean on, and how teams can improve operations.
In Other News
- AST SpaceMobile ($ASTS) reported $4.2M (+70% YoY) in Q3 revenue, with a $9.7M quarterly net loss (vs. $4.1M last year). The company ended Q3 with ~$200M in cash/equivalents.
- Sidus Space ($SIDU) Q3 revenue grew 164% YoY to $1.3M, while quarterly net loss jumped ~331% to $3.88M. The company ended the quarter with $4.4M in cash.
- Elon Musk tweeted that Starlink bought a “tiny–not large–ad package to test effectiveness” of Twitter advertising in Australia and Spain, along with buying packages on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
- Space Perspective bought its first ship, the MS Voyager, which it plans to use as a marine spaceport for its balloon space tourism service.
- SpaceX conducted a full duration test of 14 Raptor engines on Booster 7.
- Phantom Space announced a successful stage hot fire test—with an Ursa Major Hadley engine—at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
On the Move
- NASA astronaut and former USAF Col. Bob Behnken retired from NASA after 22 years of service on Friday, Nov. 11. Behnken flew on Demo-2, Crew Dragon’s first crewed mission, back in 2020.
- Voyager named retired astronaut Tim Kopra as CEO of Nanoracks.
- SpaceX enlisted ex Tesla official Omar Afshar to serve as VP of Starship production, Bloomberg reported last week.
- SpaceX will also tap Gwynne Shotwell to assume command of the Starbase facility.
- Maxar ($MAXR) hired Brian Wagner as the company’s first director of public sector communications.
- Momentus ($MNTS) announced the retirement of CRO Dawn Harms, effective December 31. Her replacement will be named later this year.
- Terran Orbital ($LLAP) lost its VP of engineering, CTO, and senior technology fellow last week, SpaceNews reports. The execs departed due to disagreements over Terran’s strategic prioritization of defense and intelligence satellites.
The View from LA
Launcher shared photos of its Orbiter SN1 beginning its journey from the clean room in LA to Cape Canaveral, ahead of a Falcon 9 launch in December.