Back to updates


Launcher awarded U.S. Space Force SpaceWERX Orbital Prime Contract

Hawthorne, California
September 30, 2022
Illustration: Orbiter performing an engine burn while holding the target satellite debris to lower its orbit.

Launcher has been awarded a Phase 1 STTR under the SpaceWERX Orbital Prime Program

HAWTHORNE, CA, September 30, 2022
Launcher, together with its partner Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced it had been selected by SpaceWERX for a STTR Phase I in the amount of $249,000 to investigate how its orbit transfer vehicle, Orbiter, might enable In-space Service Assembly and Manufacturing (ISAM) capabilities being explored by the Department of the Air Force (DAF) and United States Space Force (USSF) through the Orbital Prime program.  Orbital Prime was created to accelerate the commercial ISAM market toward a use case of Active Debris Remediation.  The Air Force Research Laboratory and SpaceWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) process by accelerating the small business experience through a faster proposal-to-award timeline, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small business and reducing bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution. The DAF began offering 'The Open Topic' SBIR/STTR program in 2018 which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded, and now, under contract as of September 7, 2022, Launcher will start its journey to provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.

Illustration:  Orbiter equipped with robotic arm and sensors enabling it to perform In-space Service Assembly and Manufacturing (ISAM) or Active Debris Remediation.


Illustration:  Orbiter on final approach to target satellite debris for Active Debris Remediation.

About Launcher

Founded in 2017, Launcher develops the world’s most efficient rockets and transfer vehicles to deliver small satellites to orbit. Orbiter, Launcher’s orbital transfer vehicle and satellite platform, is uniquely compatible with third-party rideshare launch vehicles as well as Launcher’s own Launcher Light rocket. With Orbiter, Launcher offers rideshare launch services to tailored orbits that best meet a spacecraft customer’s mission needs. Launcher is headquartered in Hawthorne, California.

Press contact:


About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force and United States Space Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit:


About SpaceWERX

SpaceWERX is the Space component of AFWERX (a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL) which connects innovators across government, industry and academia. Through innovation and collaboration with our nation’s top subject-matter experts and harnessing the power of ingenuity of internal talent, by expanding technology, talent, and transition partnerships for rapid and affordable commercial and military capability. Additional information is available at:

About SpaceWERX Orbital Prime

SpaceWERX Orbital Prime leverages a diverse industry partnership engagement strategy to identify nascent space technology sectors that, if “primed”, could advance U.S. national security and economic prosperity. Prime engagement is not limited to government investment, but also allows SpaceWERX to address key policy concerns as well as offer testbeds and platforms to advance capabilities. The first Space Prime effort, Orbital Prime will invigorate the In-space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM) market using Active Debris Remediation (ADR) as a use case for the foundational technologies. Learn more at



Company Press Contact:

David Caponio  

Head of Product and Business Development

Press contact:


More updates