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India's Pixxel partners with Momentus for second satellite launch

Bengaluru-headquartered Pixxel is building a constellation of cutting-edge earth imaging small satellites that can provide real-time remote sensing data across the world

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satellite launch

Peerzada Abrar  |  Bengaluru 

Rocket, space rocket
Representative image | Photo: Shutterstock

Pixxel, an Indian space-tech startup, has signed an agreement with Silicon Valley-based in-space satellite transportation and infrastructure company Momentus Inc, to launch its second satellite into space.

The launch, scheduled for next year on top of a SpaceX Falcon-9 to SSO orbit (Sun-synchronous orbit), a particular kind of polar orbit. Satellites in SSO, travelling over the polar regions, are synchronous with the Sun. SSO is one of the most frequently used orbits for Earth-science and national security missions. The company’s first satellite is scheduled to be launched towards the end of this year on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Bengaluru-headquartered Pixxel is building a constellation of cutting-edge earth imaging small satellites that can provide real-time remote sensing data across the world. The Momentus Shuttle Service will provide rideshare for multiple Pixxel spacecraft to predefined orbits.

“We are excited to partner with Momentus to get our satellites up in orbit as soon as we can and get the data in the hands of our customers,” said Awais Ahmed, founder and CEO, Pixxel. “Momentus’ launch and in-space transfer services provide us with the flexibility to get to the orbit we want, even on a rideshare mission. We look forward to working with them to help make space more accessible," he said.

Founded in 2019 by then 21-year-olds, Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal, Pixxel satellites aim to make the world a more sustainable place through highly accurate data-based insights in agriculture, climate change and forestry. Pixxel recently raised a funding of $5 million, which the company is using to rapidly build and launch the second satellite with Momentus’ help.

Momentus has gained significant traction since its founding in 2017. It has attracted dozens of customers ranging from private commercial space to the likes of aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and US space agency NASA. It has formed important industry partnerships, most notably with Elon Musk's SpaceX.

“Pixxel is doing something innovative that hasn’t been done in India or the West,” said Mikhail Kokorich, CEO of Momentus. “With a shared belief in humanity’s expansion in space via in-situ resources, we wish this mission the ultimate success,” he said.

Momentus employs new and proprietary technologies, including water plasma propulsion to enable revolutionary low-cost orbital shuttle and charter services. The charter service will allow dedicated capacity to be allocated to a single customer’s payload. In the Shuttle Service model, the payload will be rideshare along with other payloads hosted or deployed from the Vigoride transfer vehicle.

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First Published: Thu, September 24 2020. 03:01 IST
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