The European-based startup, The Exploration Company, is making significant strides in the competitive space industry as it signs agreements with Axiom Space and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The company aims to establish itself as a leading in-space delivery provider, challenging the likes of SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.
The Exploration Company, based in Europe, has signed agreements with Axiom Space and the Indian Space Research Organization. The company aims to become a prominent figure in the in-space delivery market and is developing its own modular and reusable orbital vehicle, Nyx. The company faces challenges in securing support from Europe but remains optimistic about its prospects.
Partnership with Axiom Space
In a recent announcement, The Exploration Company revealed that it had signed a preliminary cargo delivery agreement with Axiom Space. Under the agreement, Axiom agreed to purchase a full mission from The Exploration Company, provided that certain milestones are met by 2025. The mission is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2027. CEO Hélène Huby emphasized that serving space stations is the company’s primary focus, as there is a growing need for cargo delivery.
Development of the Orbital Vehicle “Nyx”
The Exploration Company is making rapid progress in developing its modular and reusable orbital vehicle called “Nyx.” Designed to transport cargo and potentially humans to and from space stations, Nyx is a promising addition to the company’s capabilities. The company plans to conduct an initial demonstration mission in January 2024 using a prototype named Bikini. Originally scheduled to fly with Arianespace’s Ariane 6, the mission was rescheduled to be launched with the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle due to delays. The ability to work with different launch vehicles is one of The Exploration Company’s key advantages.
Future Plans and Challenges
In the future, The Exploration Company intends to fly another demonstration prototype called “Mission Possible” in the fourth quarter of 2024. Unlike Bikini, Mission Possible is expected to make an ocean splashdown. The company has already sold out this mission. The first orbital mission is scheduled for 2026, but a launch provider has not been confirmed yet.
Despite its rapid progress, The Exploration Company has faced challenges, particularly in securing support from Europe for its space initiatives. While SpaceX and Northrop have secured massive contracts from NASA, European companies have only started to receive initial solicitations from the European Space Agency. However, Hélène Huby remains optimistic, with The Exploration Company actively bidding on the contract, and their chances of being selected for phase one of a commercial orbital transportation services agreement estimated at 98%.