Posted on
14/6/2022

Our vision of Space Logistics

We are introducing the MobilityHub™: our end-to-end space mobility

Our vision of Space Logistics

OUR VISION OF SPACE LOGISTICS:

In the 60’s, new affordable commercial shipping routes opened which were driven by companies like CMA-CGM and Maersk. This created a global market moving products from one continent or country to another. Products were transported from their manufacturing site to vast cargo ships which carried multiple customers’ products. The ships departed for their destination country, and when they arrived, the products were transported to their end customers.  This fragmented process sparked a requirement to integrate stakeholders across the value chain to offer customers an end-to-end logistics service. Today, this service is being fulfilled by a new generation of end-to-end logistics companies such as DHL, FedEx and Amazon.

We’re currently witnessing a similar trend to the 60’s but this time it’s between the surface of our planet and space. Since 2020, new affordable commercial routes have been opening, driven by companies like SpaceX or Arianespace. SpaceX have pioneered a ‘rideshare’ model which offers a cost-effective way for satellite operators to get their satellites from Earth into space. Multiple satellites share a rocket which then deploys the satellites at a common destination. While this is a cost-effective way to reach space, it doesn’t allow satellite operators the ability to customise their orbit for their own business case or application. It creates a complex trade-off: pay significantly more to launch privately but deploy in the optimal orbit for your constellation design or pay significantly less to use a rideshare option and accept a predetermined launch orbit and associated reduced constellation performance. Alongside this, there are countless other variables such as maintaining orbits, avoid collisions, and prevent the generation of space debris.

This leaves satellite operators with a complex challenge which is difficult to understand, simulate and evaluate. Operators are struggling to define their mobility requirements, understand the solutions available, and don’t have the means to execute their mobility strategy.

At Exotrail, we understand this complex challenge that satellite operators are facing and since 2017 have been working to provide the adequate solutions for our customers. We are an end-to-end space mobility operator dedicated to making satellites sustainable both economically and environmentally. We have created the MobilityHub™, our family of mobility solutions to provide our customers with an end-to-end service:

  • We created spacestudio™, our state-of-the-art design software which is used during the mission design phase by our customers to collaboratively define their mobility requirements for a constellation. It uses advanced flight dynamics and systems engineering software to accurately make informed decisions and has the proven ability to reduce launch costs by a factor of 10.
  • We use our spacedrop to solve our customers’ logistics needs after their launch. We do this with our fast, flexible and capable Orbital Transfer Vehicle - our spacevan™. This Orbital Transportation Vehicle has been designed to provide large orbit change quickly bringing satellites online as early as possible. It focuses on Low Earth Orbit constellation (LEO) plane changes, access to LEO inclined orbits but also non-LEO orbits like the geostationary orbit.
  • We developed spaceware™, a family of high-thrust, flexible, and space-proven electric propulsion systems, to provide onboard propulsion to customers’ satellites and solve their mobility need throughout their mission. In some cases, onboard propulsion is the right solution to provide operators with ability to move from their launch orbit to an operational orbit. spaceware™ also allows customers to maintain or change the orbit during operations to optimize performance, avoid collisions and perform quick deorbitation.
  • We built spacetower™ our user-friendly and best-in-class operations software, to optimize and efficiently control customers’ satellites and constellations. We’ve shown we can reduce operations costs by a factor of 25 through our powerful Flight Dynamics engine and mission control workflow software. spacetower™ allows our customers to operate and automate the solution to their mobility problem, so that the solution to this problem does not translate itself into huge operating costs driven by a large operations and flight dynamics team down here on Earth.

On Earth, apps like Citymapper or Google Maps allows you to define your route, your journey duration and your means of transportation without being an expert in cartography. In space, you should not be an expert in flight dynamics to find your route, destination and means of transportation. We give this capability to everyone with spacestudio™. Then we provide the appropriate, performant means of transportation. Some customers want to pay for a spacevan™ ticket like they would pay for a bus ticket. Some want to own their engine like they would own a car – we have spaceware™. Other need to use both - you sometimes pick up your car that you left at the train station. Then finally, spacetower™ does fleet optimization – whether it is our customers' fleets or our own.

The transport and logistics companies which have succeeded on Earth, were the ones that vertically integrated and mastered software and hardware, providing end-to-end solutions. At Exotrail, this has been our vision from day one. In our 2017 pitch deck, we mention our software, our propulsion systems, our spacevan™ service and integrating vertically across the supply chain. While we have been flexible on how to deliver this, we have always been fixed on our vision: become a leader in end-to-end space mobility.

David Henri, Exotrail cofounder & Chief Product Officer & Jean-Luc Maria, Exotrail cofounder & Chief Executive Officer

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