September 21, 2021


ZHUKOVSKY. On July 20, the opening day of the MAKS-2021 salon, Orbital Express and GK Launch Services signed a contract for the launch of a 3U CubeSat aboard the Russian Soyuz-2.1a LV with the Fregat upper stage in 2022.

The OE-1 satellite is designed for technological testing of control system algorithms developed by Orbital Express. The spacecraft will also have the equipment for technological experiments for the company’s commercial customers. Among them is the Orbital Server implemented jointly with the RuVDS company.

“A space launch is a big technical and organizational work. The first satellite for our company is not only providing services for current customers, but also demonstrating our capabilities for future ones. GK Launch Services is an experienced and reliable launch operator and we are confident that our today’s contract marks the beginning of a long-term cooperation in commercial space exploration,” emphasized Nikita Partsevsky, CEO of Orbital Express.

Alexander Serkin, CEO of GK Launch Services, said, “Today the microsatellite market is dynamically developing all over the world and we are happy to see new Russian players on it. The transition to the practical implementation of the first project of the Russian private company Orbital Express is another excellent example of the development of private sector in the Russian space industry. To provide the launch services for the company’s first spacecraft is a crucial and important moment for GK Launch Services. We appreciate that our customers have chosen one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world.”

Orbital Express LLC was established in 2020 by a group of Russian engineers and specialists with experience of work in state rocket and space enterprises and private companies. Orbital Express develops an ultra-small kick, or upper, stage to ease the launch of smallsats: nano- and micro-satellites and payloads. The kick stage is supposed to be launched on the launchers of Roscosmos State Corporation or Russian private space companies. Since 2021, Orbital Express has been a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation and takes part in the technology competition of the Aeronet Group of the National Technology Initiative in the area of the Development of an Upper Stage for Small Satellites.

GK Launch Services is a commercial launch operator. The core business of GK Launch Services is to provide launch services – to set up and perform spacecraft commercial launches using Russian launch vehicles and the infrastructure of Russian spaceports.