Vector Launch

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Vector Launch, Inc.
FoundedMarch 2, 2016; 7 years ago (2016-03-02)
HeadquartersTucson, Arizona, U.S.
Key people
John Garvey (CEO)
Jim Cantrell (former CEO)
Eric Besnard (CTO)[1] Robert Spalding
Shaun Coleman (GM, Investor, Board Member)[2]
ProductsVector-R,[3] Vector-H[4]

Vector Launch, Inc. (formerly Vector Space Systems) is an American space technology company which aims to launch suborbital and orbital payloads. Vector Launch declared bankruptcy in December 2019[5] and re-emerged in October 2020.[6]


The company's first CEO was Jim Cantrell,[7] who co-founded the company with John Garvey, Shaun Coleman, Ken Sunshine, and Eric Besnard.[8] Cantrell had previously helped Elon Musk found SpaceX in 2001.[9] Vector Launch, Inc. received US$1 million in seed angel funding from entrepreneur Shaun Coleman soon after its foundation in 2016 and additionally US$21 million million from Sequoia Capital, Shasta Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners in June 2017.[10][11] It had offices in Tucson, Arizona,[12] and an engineering facility in Huntington Beach, California.[13] In July 2016, Vector acquired Garvey Spacecraft,[14] and began designing rockets based on Garvey's designs.[7] The company was also investing in software capabilities. It had a platform called Galactic Sky, located in San Jose, California, which was developing software-defined satellites to provide start-ups and entrepreneurs with satellite capabilities.[15][16] In 2017, Cantrell signed a letter of intent to collaborate with his son's cryptocurrency company, called Nexus, that was attempting to develop a satellite-supported currency exchange system.[17][needs update] In 2016 York Space Systems signed a $60 million launch deal with Vector, to launch six satellites into orbit, which was never funded.[18]

By August 2016, Vector had tested hardware in suborbital flight with the launch of its P-20 prototype rocket, as well as atmospheric test flights of the Vector-R[when?] from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California and Spaceport Camden in Georgia.[7][8][19][20]

By 2017, Vector had announced that it planned to use the LC-46 launch site in Florida for its Vector-R rocket starting in 2018,[21] but did not achieve that target date. Additionally Vector was investigating adding more minimal infrastructure launch pads either located on land in the USA using mobile semi-trailers as tank trucks and a transporter erector launcher (TEL), or to launch the rocket from barges on the ocean.[citation needed]

By February 2018, the company was planning to launch the first orbital flight of the Vector-R in July 2018 from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska.[needs update][22] As of 2017, the first launch of the Vector-H was expected to occur in 2019.[23][needs update]

On August 7, 2019, the company was awarded its first U.S. Air Force mission, to launch the ASLON-45 spacecraft for $3.4 million.[24] However, the contract was cancelled when the US Air Force determined Vector did not meet minimum requirements for solvency.

On August 9, 2019, Cantrell left Vector Launch and John Garvey assumed the role of CEO. The future of the company was left uncertain as it reportedly faced serious financial problems.[25]


On December 13, 2019, Vector Launch Inc. and one affiliated company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. It was revealed that the August layoffs had been precipitated by the withdrawal of financial support by Sequoia Capital, one of the company's largest investors, which led other potential investors to back out of an upcoming funding round in a domino effect. Vector has filed a motion with the court for approval to sell its assets pursuant to Section 363 of the US bankruptcy code (a provision that allows for the orderly sale of assets from a bankrupt estate). The stalking horse bidder is Lockheed Martin.[5] Lockheed Martin acquired Vector's GalacticSky assets by default after a bankruptcy court received no qualified bids.[26] Another bidder acquired the remaining launch vehicle assets.

On October 29, 2020, Vector re-emerged with a new CEO to focus the company on suborbital and orbital flight.[27]


On October 29, 2020, Robert Spalding announced that Vector Launch is "focused on suborbital, and eventually orbital flight" and is targeting both the governmental and commercial sectors.[27]

On January 11, 2021, Vector's remaining shareholders unanimously voted on a wind down plan.[28]

On October 11, 2022, Vector announced their renewed focus on national security related missions as well as the addition of Shaun Coleman, Vector's original investor and former General Manager of GalacticSky to their new board of directors [29]

On March 7, 2023, U.S. Rocket engine provider Ursa Major announced that they would supply several 5,000-pound thrust "Hadley" engines to power the main stage of Vector-R launch vehicles to demonstrate capabilities for future national security missions. [30]



The company plans[31] to provide launch services with two rockets, the smaller Vector-R, and the larger Vector-H. Both rockets use a single engine for their second stage and a cluster of engines (three in the Vector-R and six in the Vector-H) for their first stage, all of which use LOX and propylene as propellants.[32]

Vector planned to recover the first stage of its rockets for reuse.[9][10] Other notable design features include a carbon fiber structure, some 3D printed engine parts, minimal infrastructure launch pads, and a fast launch cadence, which the company had hoped to reach 100 launches per year.[11][21][33] The first client of Vector was Iceye, a company in Finland.[34]


Vector developed a patented[35] software-defined satellite operating system called GalacticSky so that its planned micro-satellites can run different applications. Managed by Vector's initial investor and co-founder Shaun Coleman[36] GalacticSky was intended to allow customers to quickly test software applications for satellites without having to develop their own hardware.[15][16][37] Over 40 patents were issued for GalacticSky and its capabilities [38] Following a lawsuit filed by Vector against Lockheed Martin for violating GalacticSky patents[39][40][41] and Vector's bankruptcy, Lockheed Martin expressed interest in acquiring GalacticSky for $2.5 million, assuming no higher bidder appears.[5]

Several members of the former GalacticSky team including the primary author of many of its patents[35] and a Vector co-founder, chief sales/marketing officer and SVP/general manager of GalacticSky, Shaun Coleman,[40][42][43] former GalacticSky VP of engineering John Metzger, former Vector chief revenue officer, and Lockheed VP of Advanced programs[44] Robert Cleave[45] have since founded NewSpace Networks,[46] a company focused on extending the cloud and making satellite networks more efficient.[47][48][49] NewSpace Networks intends to bid for the GalacticSky assets against Lockheed Martin.[50] Ultimately the GalacticSky technology was acquired by Lockheed Martin.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Executive Team". Vector Launch. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  2. ^ "Vector to Focus on National Security-Related Missions, Appoints Industry Veteran as CTO". (Press release). October 18, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  3. ^ "Vector-R (Rapid)". Vector Launch. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  4. ^ "Vector-H (Heavy)". Vector Launch. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Foust, Jeff (December 13, 2019). "Vector files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy". SpaceNews. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  6. ^ "Vector Launch: True Story". Twitter.
  7. ^ a b c Van Wagenen, Juliet (August 15, 2016). "Vector Space Systems Lays Out Big Plans for Tiny Rockets". Via Satellite. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Fernholz, Tim (August 6, 2016). "The next big thing in space business is tiny rockets". Quartz. Archived from the original on September 2, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Berger, Eric (April 26, 2016). "While SpaceX eyes its "BFR," an early employee now pursues an "SFR"". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on May 11, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Coldewey, Devin (April 26, 2016). "Vector Space Systems aims to launch satellites by the hundreds". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on September 15, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Vance, Ashlee (June 29, 2017). "SpaceX Vet's Startup Readies Small Rockets for Takeoff". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on July 9, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Foust, Jeff (July 22, 2016). "Vector Space Systems plans 2018 first flight of small launch vehicle". Space News.
  13. ^ Masunaga, Samantha (July 22, 2016). "Southern California's aerospace industry, long in decline, begins to stir". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 2, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  14. ^ Hazarika, Mrinmoyee (July 21, 2016). "Vector Space Systems completes Garvey Spacecraft acquisition". Aerospace Technology. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Hazarika, Mrinmoyee (August 18, 2016). "Vector Space Systems launches software defined satellites business unit". Aerospace Technology. Archived from the original on August 19, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Vector Space launches new software platform to support space entrepreneurs". Space Daily. August 19, 2016. Archived from the original on August 20, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  17. ^ Wichner, David (April 22, 2017). "Tucson Tech: Rocket firm surging ahead on all fronts". Arizona Daily Star. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  18. ^ Avery, Greg (October 17, 2016). "Space startups team up in $60 million launch deal". Denver Business Journal. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  19. ^ Armstrong, Katie (August 8, 2016). "Vector Space Systems 3D printed a cheap mini rocket". 3D Printing Industry. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  20. ^ Grush, Loren (August 3, 2017). "Private spaceflight startup Vector pulls off second test of its micro-rocket". The Verge. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Gebhardt, Chris (May 18, 2017). "Vector Space aims to expand launch ranges with minimal infrastructure pads". Archived from the original on May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  22. ^ Foust, Jeff (February 20, 2018). "Vector planning first orbital launch this summer". Space News.
  23. ^ Leahy, Bart (May 5, 2017). "Vector Successfully Launches First Smallsat Rocket". Spaceflight Insider. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  24. ^ Erwin, Sandra (August 7, 2019). "Vector Launch awarded its first U.S. Air Force mission". SpaceNews. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  25. ^ Berger, Eric (August 9, 2019). "Jim Cantrell has left Vector, and the company may be in financial trouble". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  26. ^ Foust, Jeff (February 24, 2020). "Lockheed to obtain Vector satellite assets". SpaceNews. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  27. ^ a b "Vector". Vector.
  28. ^, Docket 574-2, page 40.
  29. ^ "Vector to Focus on National Security-Related Missions, Appoints Industry Veteran as CTO".
  30. ^ "U.S. Rocket Propulsion Company Ursa Major to Provide Engines to Vector Launch" (Press release).
  31. ^ "Vector launch".
  32. ^ "Vector-H Forecasted Launch Service Guide" (PDF). Vector Space Systems. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 27, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  33. ^ Rhian, Jason (March 27, 2017). "Space Florida Vector R-ing in on new launch provider from Cape Canaveral". Spaceflight Insider. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  34. ^ Henry, Caleb (August 4, 2016). "Vector Space Systems Wins 21-Launch Agreement from Iceye". Via Satellite. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  35. ^ a b "Patent Database Search Results: AN/"vector launch" in US Patent Collection".
  36. ^ "StackPath".
  37. ^ Fernholz, Tim (October 26, 2018). "The space industry's new bet: putting an "app store" in orbit". Quartz. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  38. ^ "Patents Assigned to Vector Launch Inc. - Justia Patents Search".
  39. ^ Wichner, David. "Tucson Tech: Vector sues aerospace giant Lockheed over mini-satellite tech". Arizona Daily Star.
  40. ^ a b "Vector isn't eager for legal fight with Lockheed Martin". April 10, 2019.
  41. ^ "Satellite Startup Launches Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Lockheed". June 13, 2019.
  42. ^ "Vector and Citrix to Bring Virtualization Software Technology to Micro Satellites: @VMblog".
  43. ^ "Vector Launches the World's First Software Defined Satellite".
  44. ^ "Robert Cleave Named VP for Lockheed Commercial Space". February 12, 2015.
  45. ^ "Lockheed Vet Robert Cleave Joins Space Firm Vector as Chief Revenue Officer". January 14, 2019.
  46. ^ NewSpace Networks
  47. ^ "Home - NewSpace Networks". NewSpace Networks.
  48. ^ Networks, NewSpace. "NewSpace Networks Raising $200M Sets Sights On Space Ecosystem". (Press release).
  49. ^ Kramer, Miriam (February 11, 2020). "NewSpace Networks aims to make data collection and communication from space more efficient". Axios.
  50. ^ Hitchens, Theresa (February 11, 2020). "Space Software Startup To Pursue SDA Contracts".
  51. ^ "Lockheed to obtain Vector satellite assets". February 24, 2020.

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