Momentus Inc., a US commercial space company that offers transportation and other in-space infrastructure services, has completed Thermal Vacuum (TVAC) testing of its Vigoride Orbital Service Vehicle scheduled to fly on the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission in December.
Thermal vacuum testing allows for the simulation of space conditions, including the temperature and altitude that the Vigoride spacecraft will experience during its mission.
"TVAC marks the final testing milestone for this Vigoride Orbital Service Vehicle (OSV),” said Momentus Chief Technology Officer Rob Schwarz. “In addition to TVAC, Vigoride has undergone successful vibration testing and an array of sub-system tests, including comprehensive ground test campaigns for the solar arrays and our Microwave Electrothermal Thruster (MET) propulsion system. We’re now focused on completing integration of our customer payloads and then preparing the vehicle for shipment to the launch site.”
The latest Vigoride vehicle design has been modified from the version that flew earlier this year. The updated design increases payload capacity and reduces launch loads transmitted to Momentus' customers. This version of Vigoride also introduces some modularity – particularly with the propulsion system, which should allow Momentus to more easily tailor the vehicle for each mission's unique transfer profile.
Momentus’ second demonstration mission priorities include delivering customer payloads to orbit for Caltech and Qosmosys, and testing Vigoride’s performance in space, particularly related to its MET propulsion. The MET uses water as a propellant and produces thrust by expelling very hot gases through a rocket nozzle. However, unlike a conventional chemical rocket engine, which creates heat through a chemical reaction, the MET heats propellant using microwave energy. The non-toxic water propellant enables simpler, safer, and less expensive operations on Earth, and more sustainable in-space services.
“We took a big step forward earlier this year with the first demonstration mission of the Vigoride OSV and deployment of a total of eight satellites in orbit from this vehicle and another deployer,” said Momentus Chief Executive Officer John Rood. “With TVAC complete, we’re excited to have passed another major milestone on the path to starting our next Vigoride demonstration mission with an improved version of this OSV and the opportunity to demonstrate our innovative green propulsion system that uses water as a propellant. We’re also excited about the role our second mission will play in enabling the operation of payloads that aim to push the technology boundaries further for clean, renewable power generation from space and new applications for non-fungible tokens.”