Vector is the first launch vehicle built exclusively for the Micro Satellite market. This vehicle is "right-sized" for the new generation of Micro Satellites and enables reliable and frequent access to orbit. Vector Space Systems is a disruptive space innovator that connects space startups with affordable and reliable launch enabling platforms and vehicles at a cost point never before possible for accessing space. Vector's founders were on the founding team of SpaceX and are industry veterans with experience building companies such as Sea Launch, Orbital Sciences, Virgin Galactic, Skybox, Garvey Spacecraft Corporation and industry experience from NASA, CNES, and McDonnell Douglas.
Vector has been launching on sub-orbital development flights for the past several years. As of mid-2016 Vector Space Systems had begun engine-level static fire testing and was working toward the start of sub-orbital test flights that will pathfind operations and manifest key technology experiments in Q3 2016, followed by large-scale sub-orbital test flights in 2017 and orbital launches in 2018. The first planned orbital flight is slotted for early 2018. Initial Operations Capability will be 12 launches per year in 2019 with 100 launches at Full Operational Capability.
Vector has been developing a launch vehicle specifically designed for Micro Satellites weighing less than 50 kg. This is the only launch system dedicated to micro spacecraft and will allow you to launch your satellite when you want and to where you want. Today, all micro satellites are launched as Rideshare payloads and cannot choose either the time of launch nor the destination. Worse, satellites flying as Rideshare Payloads are often forced to wait 2-3 years for a bus ride to space and have a limited choice of destinations.
Vector brings the price down to a level within theaffordability range of most startups and budget conscious satellite operators. Controlling the launch manifest is the only way to make sure that the launch goes to the orbit of choice and on a schedule specified and thus not creating extra opportunity cost while waiting for your next launch.
Vector, owing to its small size, advanced technology and low touch labor in the manufacturing processes offers the lowest price in the launch industry for dedicated launch. It also offers two classes of service rather than a one size fits all pricing scheme. It may seem odd to offer satellite launch pricing like airlines offer passenger ticket fares.
The truth is that not all satellite operator needs are created equal. This is especially true in the fast moving world of micro satellites where development times are measured in months rather than years and time to launch can become a critical factor in time to market and to the overall success of a venture. The opportunity cost of waiting a year for launch is measured in millions rather than thousands of dollars. For these customers, Vector offers First Class Launch Service where you can order up a launch vehicle with as little as 3 months notice. There are others that have a more laid back attitude about destination and exact launch date and for them, the typical Economy Class Launch Service is adequate and the reduced price is attractive. Whichever the case may be, Vector will have reliable and frequent launch rates to support last minute launch requests and other premium services.
Garvey Spacecraft Corp. has been working for several years on the Nanosat Launch Vehicle, a two-stage vehicle designed to launch payloads weighing a few dozen kilograms into low Earth orbit. That design will serve as the basis for Vector Space Systemís Vector 1 vehicle. On 20 July 2016 Vector Space Systems announced it has finalized the acquisition of Garvey Spacecraft Corporation. As part of the acquisition, Garvey Spacecraft Corporation Founder and CEO John Garvey joined Vector Space Systems as Chief Technology Officer.
"Through the extensive knowledge, designs, hardware, flight experience and flight prototypes acquired from Garvey Spacecraft Corporation, Vector Space Systems has seen accelerated success within just three months of its founding, positioning us as the leading launch vehicle for the microsatellite industry," said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector Space Systems. "Vector Space Systems and Garvey Spacecraft Corporation share a common vision of space commerce growth, and by joining forces, we now have a team of experienced space veterans, cutting edge proven designs and prototype vehicles which have accelerated our time to first orbital launch to only 2 years from today, down from the typical 5-7 years from a clean sheet vehicle design."
Garvey Spacecraft Corporation specializes in aerospace research to develop advanced space technologies and launch vehicle systems. Since the firm's founding in 2000, it has provided engineering, technical support, project management and hardware prototyping services to NASA, DARPA, the Air Force and multiple commercial customers with the long-term goal of building and operating a commercially-viable nanosat launch vehicle (NLV). Vector Space systems will inherit the NLV design as its first launch vehicle, the "Vector 1," while leveraging Garvey Spacecraft's propulsion technologies, successful advancement and flight track-record, as well as decades of research and development required for Vector Space System's micro satellite launch vehicle.
"The Garvey Spacecraft team is excited to share its engineering capabilities, advanced designs and technology and decades of launch vehicle operation experience with Vector Space Systems," Garvey said. "By combining resources, Vector Space Systems will bring to market a powerful launch platform, leveraging years of development and research to complete our original vision of a purpose built commercial nanosat launch vehicle. Even in the short time we have been working together, we have been able to expand our capabilities and make significant progress on a number of key technical and operational fronts."
GSC became a full-time enterprise in January 2000 when founder and CEO John M. Garvey left Boeing to concentrate his time and energy on the company. Team members draw upon their extensive experiences from a broad range of previous and current aerospace programs, including the DC-X / XA (Delta Clipper), Delta III, Delta IV, Sea Launch Zenit-3SL and Space Shuttle.
The Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate branch at Edwards Air Force Base sponsored the Garvey RLV demonstration project through a Phase I SBIR contract to GSC, with CSULB participating as a major subcontractor. The project's objective during this initial phase has been the demonstration and evaluation of design and processing factors associated with rapid turn-around RLV operations, with a test goal of conducting two flights within a single 24-hour period. This work builds upon the experiences and metrics for vertical take-off liquid propellant rocket systems that were previously established by the SDIO / McDonnell Douglas / NASA Delta Clipper prototype RLV test program, during which a turn-around of 26 hours between flights was achieved in June 1996.
"Prospector" is the name used by California State University, Long Beach [CSULB] for its set of test vehicles, whereas GSC employs the "Kimbo" title for all the vehicles it is involved with, which includes the Prospectors developed in partnership with CSULB, as well as those implemented on other projects.
A joint service team consisting of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate (AFRL/PR), the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAVAIR) achieved a significant milestone on 28 September 2006 with an initial demonstration of responsive launch operations from the Navy's San Nicolas Island. Using an early prototype of the first stage for a reusable launch vehicle (RLV), the test focused on programmatic processes and issues that are considered to be critical factors to enabling responsive space lift with future launch systems. San Nicolas Island, which is situated off the coast of southern California and is a key element of NAVAIR's Sea Range, was chosen to host this test because it shares many of the same features relative to geography, facilities and logistics as other candidate launch sites that SMC was assessing as part of its Generic Approach to Launch Transformation (GALT) initiative.
AFRL/PR provided the Prospector 7 test vehicle, which was developed and operated by the team of Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) and California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) through an ongoing Small Business Innovation Research project that is addressing RLV operations. This was the fourth and final flight for the Prospector 7, which featured liquid propulsion and a design that traded off performance for extensive structural margin to accommodate high loads during parachute recovery and landing.
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