A rendering of Spaceflight’s Sherpa-ES vehicle. Image courtesy of Spaceflight Inc.

Last month, our client Spaceflight Inc. announced a breakthrough rideshare mission, “GEO Pathfinder,” which it plans to launch no earlier than Q4 2022. The mission will debut the company’s newest propulsive orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), Sherpa Escape (Sherpa-ES), which will use a creative flyby trajectory to slingshot around the moon and deliver payloads (satellites) to geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO). GEO is a popular orbit because it allows satellites to match Earth’s rotation, making it a valuable spot for earth observation uses such as weather monitoring and communications. However, deploying satellites to GEO is typically a multi-step process fueled by heavy onboard propellant – time-consuming and costly for satellite companies. 

This pioneering rideshare mission demonstrates Spaceflight’s ability to offer customers quick access to hard-to-reach orbits without the complexities and cost of carrying the extra propellant and mass necessary to do the orbit raising themselves. The circularization maneuver Sherpa-ES will employ also shortens the time to orbit (only 15 days) and uses about 25% less propellant than traditional orbit raising. This announcement confirms Spaceflight’s position as an innovator in the industry and its commitment to being the leading space transportation provider for Earth orbit and beyond, quickly and affordably. 

Our communications plan involved announcing the news well ahead of the mission to provide ample time to explain the unique technical details and then build momentum throughout the year for this pioneering launch. We developed a press release that communicated the technical details of the mission and highlighted its significance for Spaceflight and the industry.

We also announced the first payload on the mission, an Orbit Fab in-space fueling depot. The first of Orbit Fab’s “Gas stations in space™,” Tanker-001 Tenzing, is currently flying its demonstration after launching on Spaceflight’s SXRS-5 mission in June of 2021. By making Orbit Fab’s expansion to GEO affordable, Spaceflight is supporting the establishment of infrastructure to sustain the growth of the space economy.

Knowing it would be helpful to provide visual assets to explain the unique orbital trajectory of this mission and envision Spaceflight’s new Sherpa vehicle, we worked with the marketing team to secure renderings of the Sherpa ES, alone and prepared for launch. The Spaceflight team also created an infographic that clearly outlined the phases of this mission and illustrated the unique trajectory Sherpa ES would take to deliver its payloads to GEO.  

We offered the news under embargo to select outlets a week before our scheduled announcement, to provide sufficient time to report on the mission, and worked with those who expressed interest to provide additional information. The announcement led to five media briefings and several articles. A selection of the coverage is shared below. 

Spaceflight will be hosting a webinar this month to discuss the technical details of the GEO Pathfinder mission, and we plan to continue building momentum with additional activity throughout the coming year.

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