Momentus: The Space Infrastructure Company
Like how the railroads connected people and ideas while enabling movement and growth – and eventually the industrial revolution – space infrastructure is bound to do the same.
Momentus plans to offer the backbone infrastructure services to support the growing space economy.
There are three services that we envision being 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;
3) in-orbit services like refueling, repositioning, repairing, and de-orbiting satellites.
Core to our ability to deliver these services is the Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle that we will use to provide in-space services in Low-Earth Orbit. Its first flight will be on the SpaceX Transporter-5 targeted for launch in June 2022.
First Flight – A Demo Mission
On this first flight, Momentus plans to take some customer payloads to orbit and to generate a small amount of revenue. However, the mission's primary goals are to test Vigoride in orbit, learn from any issues that are encountered, and incorporate lessons learned into future Vigoride vehicles. The entire mission will last up to 180 days. Once customer payloads are deployed, Vigoride will be put through a variety of tests to push and understand the vehicle’s performance parameters.
Momentus has a variety of secondary milestones that we’ll aim to achieve during our first flight that will continue to push the vehicle and demonstrate its capabilities.
Vigoride is a versatile and innovative orbital transfer vehicle. This vehicle is capable of providing transportation and hosted payload services to deliver small, nano, and cube satellites to precision orbits.
We believe Vigoride, once in orbit, will be able to change orbital planes and deliver payloads to a variety of altitudes in Low Earth Orbit.
Following the demo mission, we intend to work on expanding Vigoride’s initial capabilities. While the first Vigoride vehicles will be expendable, we aim to bring a reusable version of the vehicle into service in the middle of the decade.
Microwave Electrothermal Thruster
Our propulsion was built ground-up to be low-cost, efficient, low risk, safe, easy to refuel, reusable, and scalable. The use of Microwave Electrothermal Thrusters (MET) is the cornerstone that makes our service offerings possible. The MET produces thrust by expelling very hot gases through a rocket nozzle – very much the same way a rocket creates thrust. However, unlike a conventional chemical rocket engine, which creates heat through a chemical reaction, the MET heats propellant using microwave energy – similar to a household microwave oven.
The MET can transmit a very large amount of energy into a small amount of propellant and turn it into a hot plasma – reaching about half the temperature of the Sun’s surface. This technology is well-suited for use in Vigoride – and future vehicles Momentus is developing. We believe our MET thruster can be tuned to balance the cost of launched mass with opportunity cost of the transit time for our customers. The choice of water as a propellant also leads to the simple, reliable, and low-cost design of the propulsion tank feed system, and eventually of the entire vehicle.
The Momentus Space Vigoride spacecraft lifts off as part of the SpaceX Transporter-5 mission, May 25, 2022. Photo Credit: SpaceX
Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle with customer payloads at Momentus headquarters before being shipped to Cape Canaveral for integration with the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Momentus engineering team with Vigoride vehicle.
Momentus engineers support Vigoride vibration testing at the National Technical Systems lab.
Momentus engineers support setup for Vigoride thruster vacuum chamber testing.
Momentus engineer oversees a Vigoride propellant tank fill operation.
The Vigoride Microwave Electrothermal Thruster in ground test.
Momentus “Go for Launch” for First Vigoride Mission | Vigoride Orbital Transfer Vehicle Integrated on SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle