Good morning. Happy Tuesday! We hope you all enjoyed the long weekend that marked the official end of summer—and the official start of pumpkin spice season.
🐉 Wyvern x Loft
🎙️ Pathfinder #0062
🗓️ The week ahead
🔁 People on the move
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Exclusive: Wyvern and Loft Partner on Hyperspectral
Wyvern, a two-year-old hyperspectral startup, is signing on to secure observation time on a Loft Orbital mission slated for next year to expand the capacity of its Dragonette constellation.
Seeing colors: Compared to optical sensors, which can collect data across three or four spectral bands—roughly red, blue, and green—hyperspectral sensors divide light into much narrower regions and produce much more granular data that can reveal details about the chemical composition of their targets.
Hyperspectral data has been used in defense for decades from mainly airborne platforms. It’s only in the past few years that a commercial hyperspectral market has cropped up. That’s for a few reasons, Wyvern CEO Chris Robson and strategy VP Thomas VanMatre told Payload:
Downlink density. Due to the data density of observations that include tens of spectral bands, hyperspectral data is more difficult to download and transmit back to Earth.
Miniaturization. Technological advances have led to smaller sensors that no longer require huge government-owned buses.
Power. It takes more power and work to understand hyperspectral than optical.
Cost. “Bringing data down from space and storing it on premises or physical storage is incredibly costly,” VanMatre said. “Now that most ground stations have moved into the cloud, they're operating either on a Microsoft or Amazon backbone, you're able to store vast volumes of data at a fraction of the cost.”
Enter Wyvern: The Alberta, CA-based company is eyeing a commercial market for hyperspectral data, particularly for environmental monitoring, agriculture, and forestry applications, though it’s pursuing many other markets as well.
“I'd love to be able to give people the ability to say, ‘Hey, how's Earth doing today?’ And to just be able to check on their phones and receive an answer,” Robson said.
The company was founded just about two years ago, then graduated from Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 batch. Since then, it has launched the first two birds in its Dragonette constellation. Those satellites, currently undergoing commissioning, are designed to collect data across 32 spectral bands with a five-meter resolution.
Loft’s style: Loft Orbital calls itself a space infrastructure company, flying “standardized platforms, meant to be almost commoditized,” COO and cofounder Alex Greenberg told Payload. It flies customer missions on Airbus-built buses, handling the process of getting a satellite to space from end to end.
Sometimes, when it sees a trend of customer demand for a particular technology, it will launch a mission where, rather than installing a customer payload, Loft owns the payload and sells capacity.
This way, multiple customers can take advantage of the payload when they need it—either for a certain percentage of observation time or over a particular region, Greenberg said.
Loft has launched a handful of missions in this style, including imaging and RF missions as well as one previous hyperspectral mission.
The partnership: Under the agreement, Wyvern will purchase an undisclosed amount of space on Loft’s hyperspectral mission, slated for launch next year on a Transporter flight, to increase the amount of data it can get to its customers quickly. Loft has access to more ground stations, Robson said, which will enable the company to downlink higher volumes of data for its customers.
Join ITA’s Next Episode of Spazio
Get ready to dive into the future of space infrastructure with our upcoming episode of Spazio! Join us on Tuesday, September 12th at 11:00 a.m. ET as we discuss “Building the Future of Space Together” Featuring David Avino, CEO of Argotec, and Kirsten Whittingham, VP of Revenue Operations at Axiom Space. Discover current initiatives and the endless opportunities ahead.
Visit the landing page to watch the previous episodes or to sign up for the newsletter.
The One-Launch Space Station and Pathfinder #0062 with Clay Mowry
The clock is ticking on Voyager’s aspirations in LEO.
In 2021, the Denver-based space exploration company announced its goal to launch a commercial space station by 2028, three years ahead of ISS retirement. Clay Mowry, the chief revenue officer of Voyager Space and one of the driving forces behind that vision, joins Pathfinder this week to dive into the company’s plans to build infrastructure in Earth orbit.
The LEO significance: With the ISS bowing out, LEO-based ventures like Voyager’s Starlab are poised to fill a gap in LEO, though they aren’t the only ones chasing that goal. Other companies, including Axiom Space, Sierra Space, and Northrop Grumman, are working in partnership with NASA to capture the billions of dollars spent on the ISS every year.
The focus of Starlab, which is partially funded by a $160M Space Act agreement with NASA, will be on research applications rather than tourism. The station is designed to be carried on a single launch, outfitted on the ground with all the research equipment needed for its customers. It’s expected to be able to hold four people and will be used to conduct scientific research.
The company recently announced a collaboration with Airbus Defense and Space. The international joint venture will be based out of the US, but it features a European arm focused on serving ESA and its member space agencies.
A sneak peek…
Before taking up the role of CRO in January 2022, Mowry made instrumental contributions at Blue Origin and oversaw operations at Arianespace, Inc. Beyond Voyager, Mowry's influence extends to the International Astronautical Federation, an international NGO that was founded in 1951 to promote the peaceful use of space. In addition to Voyager’s future, we chat about:
Clay’s time at Arianespace and Blue Origin
Why Starlab is critical to our future in space
The partnership with Airbus
Cultural changes in the space industry
The IAF and its mission
And much more…
Pathfinder #0062 is live now…
These Speakers Will Be At Our Investor Summit. Will You?
The Payload team is excited to announce our second lineup of speakers for our Space Investor Summit on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles.
Adam Spice, CFO Rocket Lab
Mo Shahzad, CFO Relativity Space
Dan Piemont, CFO ABL Space
Darren Ma, CFO Firefly Aerospace
Payload's Space Investor Summit will bring together a select group of leading institutional investors, policy makers, and space industry executives from around the world to network, discuss market trends, explore tangible investment opportunities, and offer a forum to engage in constructive, future-forward dialogue.
This event is intended for senior-level institutional investors, space executives, and government and military officials only.
In Other News
Crew-6 splashed down after a six-month stint at the ISS that was made a little longer by bad weather on the Cape.
Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander nailed a mini-hop on the surface of the Moon.
India launched its Aditya-L1 mission to study the Sun.
The Week Ahead
All times in Eastern.
Wednesday, Sept. 6: The Intelligence & National Security Alliance will host two days of meetings in Colorado on space resiliency. At 1pm, NASA will hold a press conference to discuss the Psyche asteroid return mission. At 2:18pm, China’s Long March 4C rocket plans to launch out of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. At 7:42pm, Japan is scheduled to launch its SLIM lunar lander.
Thursday, Sept. 7: At 12:30pm, the New York Stock Exchange will host a forum on bridging space and capital markets.
Friday, Sept. 8: At 7:45pm, SpaceX plans to launch a batch of Starlinks out of Cape Canaveral.
Saturday, Sept. 9: At 8:51am, ULA is slated to launch an NRO mission aboard its Atlas V rocket.
On The Move
Globalstar named Paul Jacobs its new CEO. Jacobs previously served as CEO at Qualcomm.
Ramon.Space named Jennifer Little as CRO. Little has spent the last 10 years in business development at Kratos.
York Space Systems hired Dev Rudra as its chief supply chain officer.
Continuum Space Systems tapped Megan Spencer, a former product manager at BlackSky, as director of product management.
Fleet Space brought on Isa Notermans as chief people officer. Notermans has over 17 years of human resource experience.
Virgin Galactic ($SPCE) welcomed Henio Arcangeli, Jr., a consumer and industrial manufacturing veteran, to its board of directors.
The View from Space
Dragon splashes down off the coast of Florida with the Crew-6 astronauts, completing Dragon’s sixth long-duration mission to the @Space_Station
— SpaceX (@SpaceX)
Sep 4, 2023
Welcome home, Crew-6 🌎