Bellatrix Aerospace is working on a vehicle that would function like a “taxi in space” to ferry small satellites into multiple orbits. This orbital transfer vehicle is aimed at helping global operators reduce time and costs while launching communication and earth observation satellites.
The space startup’s vehicle is expected to launch to low earth orbit in 2023 on the Vikram rocket of Skyroot Aerospace, a Hyderabad-based rocket startup, executives at both firms told ET. “It is a new concept for the space industry. We will deliver the satellites to all the different orbits cost-effectively,” said Yashas Karanam, co-founder of Bellatrix.
Small satellites (that weigh up to 100 kg) travel to space on a rocket as a co-passenger with a larger one. If their planned orbit in space is different from that of the bigger satellite, once they are released in space, they burn fuel to maneuver to reach their orbits, reducing their intended lifespan. Many small satellite operators often wait as many as 2 years to get the right slot on a rocket to avoid this.