SAN FRANCISCO – Colorado startup ExoTerra Resources announced a NASA Small Business Innovative Research contract Oct. 5 to develop a solar electric upper stage to boost small satellites traveling on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne beyond low Earth orbit.
With ExoTerra’s Solar Electric Propulsion Upper Stage, LauncherOne customers could reach destinations including geostationary orbit, trans-lunar injection orbit, Earth-Moon Lagrange points and low lunar orbit, according to the ExoTerra news release.
“This win allows ExoTerra to begin development of an upper stage that will deliver up to 150 kilograms of payload to the moon,” according to the news release. The upper stage also could transport 180-kilogram payloads to geostationary orbit, the release added.
Virgin Orbit announced plans in 2019 to send small satellites to Mars in 2022 for Polish satellite manufacturer SatRevolution.
“That announcement definitely has attracted the interest of many others in the growing aerospace community,” a Virgin Orbit spokesman said by