In Orbit Aerospace: Revolutionizing Space Logistics For Earth To Space Commerce


Two-year-old space startup, In Orbit Aerospace, is setting its sights on becoming the third-party logistics provider for Earth to space commerce. The company recently closed a new agreement to validate key technical capabilities on the International Space Station, marking a significant step towards achieving its ambitious goals.

Key Takeaway

In Orbit Aerospace aims to revolutionize space logistics by offering third-party services for Earth to space commerce, with plans to host customers’ factories or labs on orbital platforms and facilitate the transfer of manufactured material back to Earth.

Developing Orbital Platforms and Re-Entry Vehicles

Based in El Segundo, California, In Orbit Aerospace is dedicated to developing orbital platforms and re-entry vehicles that will facilitate mass manufacturing and research in space. The company’s vision involves hosting customers’ factories or labs on an orbital platform, with uncrewed reentry vehicles autonomously docking and rendezvousing with the platforms. A robotic system would then transfer the manufactured material to the reentry vehicle, which would return the products to Earth.

Setting Itself Apart

CEO Ryan Elliott emphasized that In Orbit Aerospace is not aiming to directly compete with in-space manufacturing companies like Varda Space or Space Forge. Instead, the company focuses on providing logistics and hosting on orbit, without engaging in material manufacturing itself.

Challenges and Future Missions

The company is currently fundraising to support a demonstration mission in early 2025, which will involve working with a satellite bus provider to showcase the transfer of material from the hosting platform to the reentry vehicle. In Orbit Aerospace faces significant technical challenges, including mastering rendezvous and docking, cargo transfer, and the reentry process.

Partnership with NASA and Future Goals

In an effort to mitigate these risks, In Orbit Aerospace has entered into a space act agreement with NASA, partnering with Nanoracks to demonstrate autonomous docking and robotic transfer in a zero-gravity environment. Looking ahead, the company aims to launch a second mission in 2026 and eventually partner with a spacecraft provider to host a manufacturing lab on orbit.

The company’s core customers are expected to be manufacturers seeking to outsource on orbit hosting, particularly in industries such as pharmaceuticals and semiconductors. With increasing interest in space manufacturing from entities like NASA and the Department of Defense, In Orbit Aerospace is poised to play a pivotal role in the evolving landscape of space commerce.

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