SAN FRANCISCO – Quantum Space plans to launch Scout-1, the space infrastructure and services company’s first satellite, no earlier than March 2024 on a SpaceX Transporter rideshare flight.
From sun synchronous low-Earth orbit, the Scout-1 satellite will test a sensor Quantum Space plans to send to deep space as part of QuantumNet, a constellation to provide customers with communications, navigation and space situational awareness services in geostationary and cislunar space.
Sue Hall, Quantum Space vice president programs, called the Scout-1 Sentry mission a “stepping stone” toward QuantumNet.
The Scout-1 sensor “will track resident space objects,” Hall told SpaceNews, and demonstrate communications between Quantum Space’s ground and space infrastructures.
During the two-year Sentry mission, Quantum Space plans to refine its image-processing algorithms. Initially running on the ground, the algorithms will be moved to space-based edge processors on future satellites.
Over the next two years, Scout-1 Sentry “will operate as a continual node as we refine and develop a lot of that architecture that we want to push out into cislunar space,” Hall said.
Kerry Wisnosky, Quantum Space president and CEO called Scout-1 “an important milestone and first step toward delivering a flexible and modern data and communications relay network.”
Commercial and government orbiters and landers are scheduled to travel to cislunar space in the next few years.
“Partnerships between the U.S. Government and commercial innovators have opened the door to new ideas and breakthroughs in building a cislunar economy, and we are excited to pave the way in building the underlying infrastructure needed to support deep space commerce, national security and scientific exploration,” Wisnosky said in a statement.
Phil Bracken, Quantum Space chief strategy officer, added that cislunar space “is going to become a huge new use case for space-faring companies and countries. But we need to practice before we get there.”
An added benefit of the Sentry mission is showing Quantum Space investors that the Rockville, Maryland-based startup can hit a key milestone in its business plan, Bracken said.
In late 2022, Quantum Space raised $15 million in a Series A investment round.
Scouts and Rangers
Reprise Space Systems LLC, known as SEOPS, is providing mission integration services and its U.S.-built deployer, Equalizer, for Scout-1.
Scout-1 is designed to work with future Scout satellites and Ranger, a Quantum Space spacecraft designed to provide operational capabilities in deep space including hosting and deploying government and commercial payloads. In addition, Ranger will be equipped with data and communications sensors plus on-orbit processors to run artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
“Ultimately our goal is to open GEO and cislunar space to their full potential and help organizations leverage new innovations,” Hall said in a statement. “This first demonstration mission will prove invaluable as we gain operational insights for our upcoming missions.”