Paris, 13 April 2021. – The rideshare provider Exolaunch launched a new “environmentally responsible” space tug system, the German new space company said.
The program dubbed Reliant features a new line of orbital transfer vehicles (OTV) that bring satellites into their custom orbits and that Exolaunch considers “fully sustainable” – “the first of its kind in the OTV industry.”
The space tug testing and flight qualification will begin in 2022 on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rideshare missions, Exolaunch says.
The Reliant tug is powered by an innovative green propulsion system, which provides a high thrust-to-weight ratio and meets the highest standards for environmental safety, the startup says. Its design also leverages additive technologies using lightweight carbon fiber composites and 3D printing, resulting in low mass and high cost-efficiency.
Reliant’s standard configuration is optimal for moving satellites to a custom orbit altitude after they’ve been deployed from a launch vehicle on a set rideshare orbit, Exolaunch says. The “Pro” configuration is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system, which combines green with electric propulsion. It is designed to deorbit in less than two hours after deployment, minimizing the risks of space collisions and reducing orbital debris, the Berlin-based firm says.
After safely deploying satellites into their target orbits, an essential task of the Reliant Pro would also be to collect authorized space debris prior to deorbiting, Exolaunch says, positioning itself “as a leading actor in fostering the sustainable use of space”.