Montreal’s NorthStar Earth & Space, a commercial space-based situational awareness (SSA) startup, has announced who their launch provider will be for their first three satellites. The three 16U microsatellites are scheduled for launch in mid-2023 and will reach low Earth orbit with launch services provider Virgin Orbit. If all goes well, Virgin Orbit could be well placed to launch an additional 21 NorthStar satellites.
NorthStar is one of several startups working on providing commercial space-based SSA. Their goal is to “be the first to monitor all near-Earth orbits from space delivering a radically enhanced level of SSA services to the global satellite community, with timely and precise information for resident space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance, navigation and proximity alerts.”
In making the announcement yesterday at the New Space Europe conference in Luxembourg Stewart Bain, CEO & Founder of NorthStar said “NorthStar is proud to join forces with both Spire Global and Virgin Orbit for this historic first launch, as part of a vibrant community committed to advancing innovation in the service of space sustainability and the secure growth of the space economy.”
Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart added “Virgin Orbit is delighted to play a role in this ground-breaking mission. The proliferation of space debris and emerging threats in orbit necessitate responsive space domain awareness via space-based platforms. By working with NorthStar and Spire to deploy this innovative technology to a precise, targeted orbit via our proven LauncherOne system, we are fulfilling Virgin Orbit’s role as an affordable responsive space provider.”
This announcement comes a couple of weeks after Spire and Virgin Orbit announced a partnership that would see Spire purchase multiple launches from Virgin Orbit. NorthStar had previously announced in March that Spire would build their first three satellites.
Joel Spark, Co-Founder and General Manager, Space Services, Spire said “We’re proud that NorthStar is leveraging our Space Services model and established space, ground, and web infrastructure to rapidly deploy its constellation, which is critical to tackling the pressing issue of space debris and delivering fundamental information for satellite operators.”