Kent’s Spaceflight Inc. preparing to launch satellites into orbit aboard SpaceX mission

Spaceflight Inc. will use its Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles aboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission to deploy 36 small satellites in orbit this summer.

KENT, WASHINGTON – Based at Auburn Spaceflight Inc. prepares his Sherpa orbital vehicles to launch 36 small satellites into orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission, which must take off no earlier than June 2021.

The launch will involve spacecraft from seven different countries.

Orbital Transfer Vehicles, or OTVs, function as a cab or taxi and will be deployed by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

When in the early days of space travel a giant satellite rose into orbit aboard a massive rocket, the size of the satellites is now much smaller, some even small. The Sherpa ring, which holds individual boxes containing the satellites, will bring them into proper orbit when they are ready.

The mission also represents the first time Spaceflight Inc. will fly two different OTVs and launch the industry’s first electric propulsion vehicle, Sherpa-LTE1. Electric propulsion is considered slower, but more efficient and less dangerous than typical rocket fuels.

With 55 employees, Spaceflight Inc. is part of the growing space industry in the Kent Valley and Washington state. This is an industry created in the 1960s, including Boeing, which did much of the work for the Apollo lunar missions in Kent.

Boeing has shrunk, but now Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has entered the playing field and expanded, as has Spaceflight.

“We have about half of all space employment in the state,” said Kent Chief Economic Development Officer Bill Ellis. He said the city’s latest survey on space employment provided 5,500 jobs right within Kent, out of more than 11,000 direct space jobs in Washington state.

Further north in Redmond, Aerojet Rocketdyne began as a pioneer in the early 1960s and has now built rockets for every NASA mission.

The city of Kent plans to build a playground for children, starting in early 2022 and who knows what can inspire.

Below is a list and brief notes from space-related companies from the Washington Department of Commerce.

Industry leaders

Aerojet Rocketdyne: Over the past 50 years, the company has produced more than 19,000 pushers in Washington and has a 100% success rate. Their facilities in Redmond produce 200 to 500 pushers a year, from small rockets to properly maintain the positioning of satellites to those with a capacity of 600 pounds or more.

BlackSky: Provides an easy, accessible way to monitor, analyze, and impact timely and relevant insights using high-quality satellite imagery from multiple sources, combined with a diverse set of real-time sensor data such as newscasts, social media, and radio communications.

Blue origin: Performs engineering, design and production of rocket engines, the reusable New Shepard spacecraft and systems for its New Glenn and Moon Lander rockets

Boeing: Provides broadband networks SatCom network, administrative and management responsibilities of global ground stations and design support for the Starliner crew capsule

Carlisle Interconnect Technologies: Manufactures TVS, EMI, filter and RF / microwave connectors for space and satellite applications.

Cobalt enterprises: Builds satellite components.

Crane space and electronics: Sensor systems, fluid management, landing gear systems and cab components.

Electric shock: Produces all shapes of satellite bodies, containers, trailers and tools.

Helion Energy: Development of technology for magnetic inertia synthesis for propulsion.

Janicki Industries: Manufactures production tools and takeoff parts for spacecraft, including the Boeing Starliner’s low-pressure turret.

Kimeta: Produces satellite dishes and communication technologies.

MSNW: Produces new space propulsion technology.

Exploration beyond the planet: A research facility that simulates an extraterrestrial environment to test space systems for further research and development of cost-effective, safe and efficient space-based technologies.

RBC signals: Provides space communication technologies and real-time services for satellite operators.

Spaceflight Industries: Provides launching, mission management and connectivity services for small satellite missions or constellations ranging from 1 kg to 300 kg payload. The company is also building a new manufacturing facility near Seattle for satellite production.

SpaceX: Engineering and production of the constellation from the company’s Starlink broadband satellites.

Systima Technologies: Manufactures spacecraft separation and deployment systems.

Tethers Unlimited: Designs and manufactures power supply, propulsion, activation and communication systems for small satellites, robotic technologies for the production and assembly of orbits, software-defined radio communications and 3D printed radiation protection.