Orbital Machines, a NewSpace startup, and Theion, a battery technology startup, have entered into a partnership to revolutionize the cost and payload capacities of small launch vehicles by more than halving the weight of their batteries.
Orbital Machines specializes in supplying standardized and scalable rocket components to the NewSpace industry. Their benchmark product is an electric propellant pump that feeds the launch vehicle’s rocket engine with fuel and oxidizer. The product is a safer and more flexible alternative to the traditional turbopump technology.
These are desirable attributes to small launch vehicle companies, who aim to provide frequent and affordable satellite launches. However, the weight of the batteries have prevented electric propellant pumps from being adopted at large scale. Until now.
“Using Theion’s solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries, we can not only multiply the payload of small launch vehicles, but also replace the traditional gas-driven turbopumps still used on larger launch vehicles, and even for crewed missions.”, says Eivind Liland, CEO of Orbital Machines
This will have a significant effect on the whole NewSpace Industry, and especially the fast growing small satellite launch industry.
“The new battery technology will make it easier and cheaper to launch. Since a rocket needs to lift not only itself, but also its propellant, any reduction in its final mass has an exponential effect on how much payload it can lift into orbit.”, Liland explains
For Theion, combining their batteries with an electric propellant pump for rockets provides an ideal opportunity.
“The partnership is an opportunity to test our revolutionary battery technology with applications that demand extreme performance, and will test and verify our technology’s utility. That gives us higher confidence before we expand to mass industries, like for example car batteries.”, says Florian Ruess, CEO of Theion
“If our technology can meet the requirements of a rocket launch and space environment that will be an excellent basis for other applications.”, Ruess continues
By exploiting new technological opportunities like this, and economies of scale, Orbital Machines will supply the industry with standardized, affordable and reliable components for frequent launches.
“Our company’s main mission is to help make access to space cheaper and more accessible to everyone, and with Theion, we are prepared to take a giant leap towards that goal.”, says Eivind
We have reached our first target on Seedrs.com/orbital-machines and are ready to overfund for the next 14 days, realizing our testplans scheduled for the next two years.
The successful crowdfunding means we will start hydrotesting the prototype for their customer Venture Orbital Systems this fall, as well as conducting a static fire test with Copenhagen Suborbitals scheduled for this year.
“The small and mid-sized companies in the New Space Industry really needs a supplier market that can reduce their cost and risk in their services.”, says Eivind LIland, CEO
“Orbital Machines is doing that by standardizing the basic design of critical systems and components in the rockets. Recent battery technology and economies of scale enables us to do so, starting with our first product: the electric propellant pump”, Liland continues
The NewSpace industry is looking at exponential growth, but the complex and tailor-made technology is currently a roadblock for many companies. Significant customer traction has proved to Orbital Machines that our propellant pump is ready to be commercialized.
“We are dependent on the equity crowdfunding campaign to respond to our customer traction. The campaign lasts for 14 more days, and as we overfund, more projects and faster development is realized”, Liland says.
Orbital Machines has previously had two successful Norwegian crowdfundings on the Norwegian platform folkeinvest.no, making this a lucky third.
“We know there’s a broad interest for space investments in the UK and in many European countries. This is why we believe we have great chances for another successful campaign.” – says Liland
“I am proud to have crowdfunded the company successfully three times. Orbital Machines wants to democratize space, be supplying standardized and affordable systems and components to the launch industry. Just like we want to cooperate with customers of all sizes, I love that we can say the same about our shareholders”, says Liland
We have signed our first commercial customer; the french launch company Venture Orbital Systems. The main purpose of this collaboration is to develop a cutting edge propellant pump for Venture Orbital Systems´ nano-launcher, the Zephyr. The first project phase is underway since January 2021. The project aims for launches in 2023 and 2024
– This is a milestone for our company and a great opportunity for the development of our nano-launcher, Zephyr, and our engine, Navier. We are pleased to enter partnership with Orbital Machines and their electric propellant pump will be a critical component, says CEO Stanislas Maximin from Venture Orbital Systems.
Venture Orbital Systems is a French start-up developing the nano-launcher “Zephyr”. VOS’ goal is to offer a simple and tailored-made launch service dedicated to CubeSats and NanoSats operators. in total the vehicle can carry 70kg of payloads into orbit.
– We are planning to iterate different versions of Navier during the next three years. This electric propellant pump will be part of our suborbital launcher which is scheduled to launch in 2023, and further our orbital launcher, Zephyr, scheduled for 2024. As we will have to develop and integrate numerous engines per year, Orbital Machines will be a crucial part of our objective, Maximin continues.
An orbital space launch vehicle contains more than 90% fuel and oxidizer, which is burned off in just a couple of minutes. This requires a very powerful and light pump, where a gas turbine has been the most feasible option until recently. These are both complex and hard to control and must be individually designed for each launch vehicle.
Due to rapid improvements in battery technology and electric motors in the last years, electric propellant pumps are now a viable solution for several space applications including nano-launchers. Electric propellant pumps are more flexible, more affordable, and inherently safer. Most importantly, the technology can be standardized and easily adapted to new rocket engines, creating a huge commercialization opportunity.
– Our technology aims to make launches as simple and safe as possible. With Venture Orbital Systems we are able to move faster with our technology, making us available for further space missions in nearer future, says CEO Eivind Liland from Orbital Machines
– We believe that Venture Orbital Systems will help us succeed in the highly competitive landscape of small satellite launchers. We are proud to supply them with the heart of their missions; the electric propellant pump, Liland continues.