Airbus has just announced the sale of fifteen satellites based on the Arrow platform to the start-up Loft Orbital. This unprecedented contract shows the aerospace group’s desire to move towards less conventional customers. For its part, Loft Orbital is a young company founded in 2017 in Toulouse. It also has a branch in San Francisco.
With its “service offer”, it offers its customers the ability to launch payloads quickly into orbit. The company then groups them into platforms, satellites the size of a washing machine. A total of 12 companies can share the space and resources available on the same base.
Loft Orbital: space carpooling, quite simply
Acting as intermediaries between launch companies (such as SpaceX or Rocket Lab) and small structures wishing to reach orbit, Loft Orbital offers a simple, accessible service within an announced deadline “twice as short as other operators. »
With this new contract, Loft Orbital is developing its offer and making its first commitments to its customers. But the choice of Airbus is not the result of chance. In addition to the geographical proximity of the two companies (both from Toulouse), the Arrow platform is a symbol of reliability and modularity in the space industry. Two essential qualities for Loft Orbital and its service offer.
For Pierre-Damien Vaujour, CEO of the start-up, this signature is a great satisfaction. He now hopes that the company will be able to develop in Toulouse, which has received support “unmatched in France”. BPIFrance, via its specialized Large Venture fund, was one of the major players in the last round of Loft Orbital.
Airbus: a mandatory adaptation
For Airbus, this unprecedented sale is a first step towards New Space and its many start-ups. The group will thus bring its industrial know-how and learn from the “disruptive proposals” of young start-ups. For Jean-Marc Nasr, Director of Airbus Space Systems, this contract is “confirmation of the group’s mass production strategy”.
Reacting to the announcement of this contract, the Minister of the Economy Bruno le Maire welcomes “the vivacity of French space start-ups » as well as the way in which start-ups and SMEs manage to work with large groups “to deliver world-class solutions. »
In addition to this contract, Loft Orbital has joined Airbus’ “Next Space” program. Its objective is to preserve the space ecosystem in low orbit, thus ensuring the safety of the players there.