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What is Avio up to in Kourou?

Europe in Space
Issue 21. Subscribers: 444
To my 9 new subscribers, welcome and enjoy your first issue.

What is Avio planning for its new launch facility?
A few weeks ago, CNES announced that it had preselected seven companies to launch from a new commercial launch facility being developed at its Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana. One of those companies was Avio. This was surprising as Avio already has launch facilities at the historic spaceport. 
With this in mind, I was left asking what vehicle Avio plans to launch from the new facility and if this marked a planned split from Arianespace, which is currently responsible for marketing and launching Avio’s Vega family of vehicles.
In response to my queries, Avio explained that it would be launching a next-gen two-stage microlauncher that the Italian rocket maker is in the initial stages of developing.
Credit: Avio
Credit: Avio
In late June, Avio announced that it had received €340M in ESA funding to develop the two-stage launch vehicle. The vehicle will be powered by green LOX-methane engines. The upper stage will utalise the M10 engine that is currently being qualified by Avio and will also be utalised aboard Vega E. The company will develop a new high-thrust LOX-methane engine for the first stage. A total of €120M of the overall ESA funding received by Avio has been set aside for the development of this new first-stage engine.
According to Avio, the new vehicle is expected to debut from the new Guiana Space Centre facility in 2026. Following that, the company tentatively plans to launch five missions aboard the vehicle per year.
When asked whether the company had or would be considering any of the many commercial launch facilities being developed around Europe, Avio stated Kourou is the “best and most flexible European launch facility.”
Will Avio split from Arianespace?
The most interesting question raised from this announcement was if Avio planned to part ways with Arianespace to pursue its own launch services business. Avio did not respond with an outright rebuke of the suggestion, which may hint that there could be plans in the pipeline. However, at this point, this is very much my own speculation.
“Today Vega is marketed by Arianespace alongside Ariane in a European cooperative effort to secure complementarity of the two ESA-developed launchers (the two sole launchers qualified for orbital flight in Europe to date),” said an Avio spokesperson. “Avio is already involved in marketing activities through a dedicated Avio-Arianespace committee addressing all commercial decisions for each customer. To the present date, there are no new elements on the arrangement to market and manage Vega launches.”
The new Avio vehicle will share the facility with vehicles from HyImpulse, Isar, MaiaSpace, PLD Space, RFA, and Latitude. According to CNES CEO Philippe Baptiste, other operators may be pre-selected during a subsequent call for applications.
Breakups are always hard - Seven months after its initial announcement, D-Orbit and Breeze Holdings Acquisition Corp have mutually agreed to terminate a merger between the two companies. “The financial markets have changed substantially, and we believe that terminating our merger is in the best interest of both D-Orbit and Breeze shareholders,” said Breeze Holdings Chairman and CEO J. Douglas Ramsey.
One small actuator for space - German space tech startup DcubeD has partnered with Isar Aerospace to test the company’s new uD3PP release actuator aboard the maiden Spectrum flight in 2023. The actuator is intended to be utalised for critical mechanisms like solar arrays and antennas that are locked during launch and deployed once in orbit. 
An Italian, a Swiss, and an American jump on a rocket together - Italian space logistics company D-Orbit announced that it has signed an agreement with Astrocast to carry 20 of the Swiss IoT nanosatellite operator’s satellites aboard the company’s ION space tugs. The first launch, scheduled no sooner than November 2022, will deploy a batch of four 3U satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
One hell of a report card - The UK Space Agency released its Space Accelerator Impact Report. According to the report, the accelerator supported 88 space entrepreneurs, enabling them to raise almost £9 million in investments and create over 80 new jobs. The programme was launched in March 2021 with the UK Space Agency partnering with Entrepreneurial Spark to facilitate it. 
The hot new thing - Swedish space tech company AAC Clyde Space announced the release of its new Epic satellite range. The Epic View is a 6U spacecraft optimised for Earth observation missions and is available with Simera Sense xScape100 optical imager. The Epic Link is a 6U spacecraft tailored for communications missions.
Seven years in space - Spanish space tech company DHV Technology has signed an agreement to supply UARX Space with solar panels and power units for the company’s OSSIE space tugs. The contract will remain in place for a period of seven years. The agreement also includes the potential for collaboration with research and development projects.
I may need to draw you a diagram - US space logistics company Spaceflight Inc signed an agreement with Italian launch broker SAB Launch Services to fly its Sherpa space tugs aboard Arianespace Vega missions. The flights will make use of the Small Satellites Mission Services initiative launched by ESA in 2016. The initiative aims to offer low-cost launch services by fully exploiting the capabilities of the Ariane 6 and Vega C vehicles.
The highlands get high-tech - Scottish satellite builder Alba Orbital has been awarded a £100,000 Smart:Scotland grant from the Scottish Enterprise to develop its next-gen AlbaPod V3 pico-satellite deployers. The project aims to optimise the company’s existing line of AlbaPod products and build on its in-space capabilities for the next iteration.  
Their journey is over for now - Spanish-German cislunar economy startup Plus Ultra Space Outposts has shut down. According to CEO Carlos Manuel Entrena Utrilla, this had been the de facto situation for months, but this is the first official announcement of its closure. “After 2.5 years of pushing for the Moon, Plus Ultra Space Outposts is shutting down. There are many reasons behind this decision, but I won’t bore you with them. We just didn’t make it,” Utrilla said on LinkedIn.
Put on another shrimp on the barbie - UK-based launch broker Commercial Space Technologies signed an agreement with Gilmour Space Technologies for up to 50 kilograms of capacity aboard its Eris Block 1 vehicle. The Australian-based Gilmour Space Technologies is expected to debut its Eris Block 1 launch vehicle as early as late 2022. The vehicle is capable of deploying 215 kg payloads to low Earth orbit.
Since you read to the end, above is a little look at how Issue 20 of the European Spaceflight newsletter was received.
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Andrew Parsonson

A weekly European spaceflight update with exclusive infographics, in-depth analysis, and a review of the week's biggest announcements.

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