Aerospace startup Vector – an American company that develops small rockets to send small satellites into orbit – announced on Friday that there is a break in operations due to "a significant change in funding." The company's CEO Jim Cantrell has also left and been replaced by John Garvey, one of the company's co-founders.
These sudden changes for the company come just days after Vector received its first US Air Force launch contract worth $ 3.4 million. Now the company says it will try to find out how they can move forward. "A core team is evaluating alternatives to complete the development of the company's Vector-R small-range vehicles while supporting the Air Force and other government agencies for programs such as the recent ASLON-45 award," Vector said in a statement. [1
Cantrell, one of the members of the team that helped form SpaceX in 2002, has run Vector since it was first formed in 2016. This new venture was one of many startups trying to capitalize on the small satellite revolution, by building vehicles dedicated to putting relatively small spacecraft into orbit. The two primary rockets Vector planned to develop were Vector-R and Vector-H, apparently capable of firing between 132 kilos (60 kilos) and 640 pounds (290 kilos) in orbit, respectively.
Cantrell claimed the goal was to become something of a fast food company, but to launch satellites. "We're not going to be guys developing new rockets," said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector, The Verge in 2017. "We hope to get these two vehicles going and milking hell out of them … We're going to build the same thing over and over again – like McDonald's for rocket operations. "
Vector had raised more than $ 100 million in a couple of financing rounds before today. The company had also actively implemented engine tests, and had even conducted two suborbital flight tests with some prototype rockets, however, the company had not yet arrived in space. The first orbital flight to Vector-R was originally scheduled for summer 2018 out of Alaska's Pacific Spaceport Complex. did not take place, and now it may never take off.
Cantrell argued that because of the small size of Vector's ra chains, the company could quickly fire from everyone across the country, and even other continents, with minimal infrastructure. Vector had signed an agreement to start flights from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, and looked at other possible locations as well. "We may have one or two Wallops flights on Monday, one Georgia flight Tuesday, one Florida flight Wednesday, and maybe one Alaska flight Thursday, then you will take off Friday," Cantrell told The Verge in 2017. "So eventually we have to find even more launch sites, that's a critical thing."
The company says that there should be more updates on Vector's future next week.