Vector is one of many companies devoted to the innovation and development of small launch vehicles. Their most recent customer is a British company called Open Cosmos. Open Cosmos offers cubesat missions with low-cost and end-to-end service. Representatives from Vector indicated that the contract with Open Cosmos includes several missions scheduled to take place between 2019 and 2023.
Mid-last week, the company announced plans for their first ever orbital launch in anticipation of that contract with Open Cosmos. The launch is currently scheduled for July, pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. This approval process can be lengthy. In the case of Vector’s planned launch, it has been ongoing for about two years. However, the company expects to be granted approval soon and has assured investors and other interested parties that they are going to launch this year. It is set to occur at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. This particular launch includes a small payload for a yet-undisclosed customer as well as a test payload.
Vector’s previous test launch occurred in 2017 from Georgia. Since they had not obtained a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration at the time, the test-flight was a very low altitude one but was still considered a success. The Arizona-based company is also considering test launches at sites in other countries as well as the United States. While there is a lot of administrative paperwork involved in obtaining approval, the company seems to think that it is worth the increased effort. One country in contention is Canada, as Vector representatives believe they need to branch out in order to fully dominate the market.
The company already has one facility in Tucson, but they have announced plans to expand operations. Later this summer, work is scheduled to begin on a much larger factory with the goal of increasing production.