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There are several factors that can be used to classify satellites, one being mass. They can be separated into three different groups in this way. These categories encompass large satellites weighing more than 1,000 kg; medium-sized spacecraft weighing between 500 kg and 1,000 kg; and small satellites weighing between 1 kg and 500 kg. Commonly known as conventional satellites, medium and large satellites are ubiquitous. It has become necessary to find a more ideal replacement because these spacecrafts are large, expensive, and slow. Small satellites are now widely used for this reason. Interest in both tiny and medium-sized satellites has grown significantly among many space companies.

In order to deploy its own Spectrum rocket from French Guiana, a European small launch vehicle company Isar Aerospace has inked a contract with CNES, the French space agency. Isar said on July 21 that it and CNES had signed a legally binding term sheet for launches from the Diamant launch facility at the Guiana Space Center, commonly abbreviated as CSG, next to Kourou, French Guiana. Launches will take place on the new pad, which will be an extension to the one in Andya, Norway, beginning during the first half of the year 2024.

The second pad will enable more launches and service orbits not accessible from Andya, which may support deployments to polar and retrograde orbits, according to Alexandre Dalloneau, who is the vice president (VP) at Isar in charge of the mission and launch operations, who stated this in an interview. Launches to orbits from close to the equator to the poles will be possible from the CSG pad.

“Two separate launch sites is a great asset for us. We are the solitary one in Europe,” he stated. He continued by saying that it also enables Isar to compete with American firms such as Firefly Aerospace, ABL Space Systems, and Relativity Space that are creating vehicles with performance comparable to Spectrum and also have access to a variety of launch locations.

Although it was constructed more than 50 years ago for the French rocket bearing the same name, the Diamant pad has been abandoned for a long time. Isar is the first business CNES chose in competitive bidding to use the facility, which is currently being transformed into a multi-use facility for small launch vehicles.

Infrastructural elements like plumbing, power, and communications will be provided by CNES, according to Dalloneau. Then Isar will build an assembly hangar and launch pad there for its own launches, with the possibility that other businesses will also create their launch sites there.

The company’s Andya pad and the French Guiana facility both have a maximum annual launch capacity of ten launches each. The number of additional launch companies that establish themselves at the Diamant complex, as well as many other launch activities from the Ariane and Vega pads at CSG, will play a role in this. He remarked, “I’m aware that CNES intends to increase the number of launches from their launch complex. He said that 10 flights per year were doable, but added that this “depends on the deployment cadence of other launch suppliers.”

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