It’s week one for me as Chief Executive Officer at Momentus. I’m excited to be taking the helm at this innovative, young space company that aspires to enable the new space economy to grow and flourish. After a long career in government service, most recently as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the U.S. Defense Department, and working at large aerospace companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, I was inspired to join this team because it’s an undeniably exciting time in the space industry. The value that Momentus can contribute has me optimistic about the future and the potential that can be unlocked through a thriving space economy. 

A railroad for the space age

Momentus has a compelling vision to create the backbone infrastructure services to help people, industries, and companies use space in new ways. Like the early railroads connected people and ideas and enabled movement and growth, infrastructure in space can do the same.

There are three infrastructure services that we think will be commonplace demands of the future: 1) in-space transportation to carry customers’ satellites to precise custom orbits; 2) hosted payloads to provide customers’ satellites with continual power, orbit keeping, orientation and communication services or Satellite as a Service; and 3) in-orbit services like refueling, repositioning, repairing, and de-orbiting satellites. 

When these services are available, space-faring customers can invest more time in their payloads and technologies and rely on the logistics that we aim to provide. 

Technology is the foundation 

Central to delivering on this vision is our technology.

The first service vehicle we’re developing is Vigoride and it will provide in-space transportation services mainly in Low-Earth Orbit. We’ve already built two Vigoride vehicles, which have completed flight qualification where the satellite is tested under the conditions it will experience during launch and while in space. 

The first Vigoride vehicle we built was ready to fly with customer payloads onboard earlier this year. It was integrated onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in January 2021– just days away from its first flight. Due to government concerns about our foreign ownership at the time, we had to remove the vehicle and stand down on our mission. We’ve made significant progress in resolving those concerns, as signaled by the National Security Agreement we signed in June that we are implementing with diligence. 

Core to our service vehicles is our Microwave Electrothermal Thruster (MET) water plasma propulsion system. MET technology has a history dating back to the 1980s with initial academic research at Penn State University. We decided to focus on this technology because when it’s matured, we believe it will be low-cost, efficient, safe, reusable and scalable – and it will have performance characteristics that make it very well suited for in-space transportation.

We are currently undertaking an extensive ground test of our latest-generation MET thruster with the objective to validate the thruster’s performance. We recently completed 350 test cycles and the results are consistent with the Company’s expectations for engine performance and the resilience of the engine design for the time tested. The latest 750W thruster now in ground-testing is approximately 25 times more powerful than the original thruster design.

In addition to these significant developments, we have invested tens of millions of dollars in R&D in just the last 1.5 years. With that, we’ve started developing the high power (6kW) S-Band and L-Band thrusters that will propel our next transportation vehicle, Ardoride. We are also developing the microwave source that drives the MET and the propellant storage and feed systems. And there are more development and qualification activities underway that we will have more to say about in the future.

Looking ahead

As I look ahead, I’m excited to lead this team as we take our technology and translate it into meaningful outcomes for our customers. 

Our goal is to fly our first Vigoride mission in 2022, pending receipt of appropriate government licenses and securing a slot on our launch provider’s manifest. With this commercial flight and subsequent missions, we plan to demo our technology in space, learn from it and further refine our technologies to crystallize our service offerings.

 We’ve also got our eye on the ongoing Stable Road stockholder vote, which will be held on August 11. This is the last step toward completing our planned merger with Stable Road Acquisition Corporation (SRAC), which would result in Momentus becoming a public company. SRAC stockholders (as of July 7) will vote on whether to complete the merger, and I urge SRAC stockholders to vote for the merger and related proposals so that we can execute on our vision. 

Industry forecasts indicate that the space economy is expected to outgrow the overall economy in the future. Launch prices are declining and space access is opening. While space is becoming a more practical destination, we have only scratched the surface of how it can be used. From railroads that first connected people from coast to coast to the zero-g services that will boost a new space economy, infrastructure is the foundation of the future and I look forward to leading the Momentus team in making our vision a reality.