Momentus deploys additional Vigoride tug satellites

WASHINGTON — Momentus has deployed additional satellites from its first space tug, which encountered technical problems shortly after launch in May and is moving forward with a second launch later this year.

The company said Aug. 2 that it deployed four satellites from the Vigoride-3 tug in July, in addition to two that were deployed three days after its May 25 launch as part of the SpaceX Transporter-5 rideshare mission. A seventh satellite, Bronco-Sat 1, was deployed from a second port during the Transporter-5 launch.

The six satellites deployed from Vigoride-3 were “PocketQube” satellites, five centimeters across, from FOSSA Systems, a Spanish company developing an Internet of Things constellation. The company had seven such satellites on the tug. The tug was also carrying an eighth PocketQube from an undisclosed customer as well as SelfieSat, a two-unit cubesat developed by Orbit NTNU, a Norwegian student space organization.

Vigoride-3 was primarily a demonstration mission of the company’s orbital transfer vehicle technology. However, the spacecraft suffered post-launch issues, including communication issues and solar panels that failed to deploy properly after launch. The company said in mid-June that its confidence in Vigoride-3’s ability to carry out its mission “has waned significantly,” but did not provide any additional updates prior to the Aug. 2 statement.

Momentus said its engineers identified the root cause of the anomalies with Vigoride-3 but did not release details about the problem. An independent review team agreed with the findings of the company’s engineers.

“We have completed our own internal reviews and welcomed an independent review team that conducted a comprehensive assessment of our first engagement,” Momentus chief executive John Rood said in the statement. “We have already learned a lot from our first Vigoride demo mission and intend to learn everything we can before the mission is over.”

He said the company is moving forward with its next vehicle, Vigoride-5, slated for launch on SpaceX’s Transporter-6 mission in November. Rood said the company is “intensely focused” on incorporating corrective action on this vehicle in time for launch.

Shares of Momentus closed up 11.3% in trading on Aug. 2 after the company’s announcement, but are still near a 52-week low.

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