“Revolutionizing the Aerospace Industry: In Orbit’s Mission as the Preferred Third-Party Logistics Partner for Science and Beyond”

In Orbit Aerospace wants to be the third party logistics provider for science and industryTwo year old space startup In Orbit Aerospace wants to be the third party logistics provider for Earth to space commerce – and to get there, the company just closed a new agreement to validate key technical capabilities on the International Space Station. The El Segundo, California-based company is developing orbital platforms and re-entry vehicles to enable mass manufacturing and research in space. “Automation and robotics is the backbone of industrial manufacturing on Earth,” CEO Ryan Elliott said in a statement. On a slightly longer scale, In Orbit is aiming to launch a second mission in 2026 and then partner with a spacecraft provider to host a manufacturing lab on orbit. In Orbit is expecting that its core customers will be manufacturers, who will want to outsource on orbit hosting.

Two years ago, a new player entered the space industry with a big ambition – to become the leading third-party logistics provider for Earth to space commerce. In Orbit Aerospace, a startup based in El Segundo, California, is determined to revolutionize the way we manufacture and conduct research in space. Their vision includes hosting customers’ factories or labs on orbital platforms, where uncrewed reentry vehicles would autonomously dock and rendezvous to transport the products back to Earth.

“Automation and robotics are essential in industrial manufacturing on Earth,” stated In Orbit Aerospace CEO Ryan Elliott. “We believe the same should be true in space.”

However, Elliott is quick to clarify that In Orbit is not directly competing with current in-space manufacturing companies like Varda Space or Space Forge. “Our customers and their customers have different needs,” he explains. “We aim to provide logistics and hosting services, rather than actually manufacturing materials.”

This ambitious project has been in the works for over two years, and the company has already raised around $2 million in funding. Currently, they are in the process of raising more funds to support a demonstration mission scheduled for mid- to late-2026.

For this mission, In Orbit will partner with a satellite bus provider to launch a smaller version of their orbital platform and reentry vehicle. The goal is to demonstrate the transfer of materials from the hosting platform to the reentry vehicle, which will then return to Earth.

However, the road ahead for In Orbit is far from easy. The company faces significant challenges in nailing down key technical capabilities, including rendezvous and docking, cargo transfers, and the reentry process. Elliott explains that these tasks are particularly difficult, as there is limited commercial hardware available and the testing process is complex.

“Simulations and Earth-based testing can only go so far,” he states. “The only true way to test reentry is through flight, which presents its own set of challenges.”

To mitigate these risks, In Orbit recently closed a new agreement with NASA. As part of a Space Act Agreement, the company is partnering with Nanoracks to conduct demonstrations of autonomous docking and robotic transfers in a zero-gravity environment. Nanoracks, which is now owned by Voyager Space, has extensive experience and resources as a long-time commercial resident of the International Space Station (ISS). The testing is scheduled to take place in mid- to late-2025 at the earliest.

In the long term, In Orbit plans to launch a second mission in 2026 and collaborate with a spacecraft provider to host a manufacturing lab on orbit. Eventually, their goal is to leave hardware in space and only launch reentry capsules to rendezvous and dock with the orbital platforms.

The company believes that their primary customers will be manufacturers seeking to outsource on orbit hosting. These could include pharmaceutical or semiconductor companies looking to manufacture products in space, an industry that has been rapidly gaining traction.

Elliott believes that the demand for in-space manufacturing will continue to increase, with more and more funding from organizations like NASA and the Department of Defense pouring in. “The potential for this industry is massive,” he says. “And with the support of partnerships like our recent one with NASA, In Orbit Aerospace aims to be at the forefront of shaping this exciting new frontier.”

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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