Credit: Exotrail

After the critical first step of becoming a satellite operator at the end of 2023, Exotrail is continuing to gain meaningful space heritage with a first “last-mile” in space delivery on February 28th 2024. The successful release in orbit of an 8U satellite by its spacevan™ orbital transfer vehicle is an essential achievement on the path towards becoming a space logistics leader worldwide.

With a telecommand sent around 11pm, Exotrail’s orbital transfer vehicle successfully separated its passenger in orbit, completing the inaugural demonstration of the end-toend satellite delivery service: spacedrop™. Launched in November 2023 aboard SpaceX Transporter 9 mission, Exotrail conducted this delivery mission in close contact with the French Space Agency (CNES) and other space surveillance and tracking (SST) partners to guarantee the safety of all space assets.

spacedrop™ is Exotrail’s end-to-end delivery service for satellites, from their integration on the transfer vehicle all the way to the “last mile” release on the desired orbit. This adds space access to numerous satellites with specific mobility needs – as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations distributed over several orbital planes do. This service allows tailor-made deliveries when embarking on shared standardized flights aboard heavy launchers, or by providing additional performance when using lighter launchers. Exotrail has deployed the 8U satellite named EXO-0, manufactured by Endurosat, carrying an Airbus Defense and Space payload. Airbus’ passive detumbling device onboard is designed to facilitate active debris removal, furthering Exotrail’s vision of a more sustainable space. With a record time of only six months from contract signature to launch, Exotrail demonstrated its agility and flexibility with its spacedrop™ service to meet a challenging client timeline.

This delivery, happening after three and half months of safely carrying the payload, demonstrates the capacity of Exotrail’s spacevan™ vehicle to sequence its mission into multiple activities for various clients. Veoware, the second customer of the inaugural mission, will test its own hardware aboard the platform, benefiting from Exotrail’s hosted payload service: spacehost™.

Showcasing its approach to space mobility in their mobilityhub™ framework, this mission brought together Exotrail’s own hardware and software products to provide a delivery service for its customers. The spacedrop™ service relies on their spacestudio™ software for the mission design, on their orbital transfer vehicle and spaceware™ electric propulsion systems for efficient maneuvering in space, and their spacetowerTM software for all the operational flight dynamics computations.

Jean-Luc Maria, Exotrail CEO and Co-Founder, marked the occasion saying: “Today is an historic moment for Exotrail, as this achievement marks a new leap towards becoming a worldwide space logistics leader. I am extremely proud of the teams for delivering a client’s satellite to orbit, making the most of our in-house tools. The spacevan™ - 001 mission has showcased our capacities to deliver for our customers, and we have certainly learnt a lot on the journey. The mission is still expected to display even more key features and I look forward to sharing the next steps of the mission soon!”

About Exotrail

Exotrail is a leading provider of end-to-end space mobility. We provide services for customers to define, solve and operate their mobility needs using our mobilityhub™. Our products optimize the deployment of satellites, increasing their performance and reducing space pollution. Incorporated in 2017, Exotrail has secured over €70M of funding and more than 30 customers in North America, Europe and Asia. Exotrail’s team is expanding quickly and consists of +150 passionate people operating out of two locations in France (Toulouse and Massy) and two in the US through Exotrail US.

Source: Exotrail

Kris Christiaens's Avatar

Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.