Russia Joins the 'New Space Economy' with Launch of First Private Satellites

Russia has officially joined the so-called “new space economy” with the launch of its first three privately designed and operated small and micro-satellites aboard a converted Soviet-era Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, or ICBM, late last week, which launched a record-breaking total of almost 30 other micro-satellites and four larger satellites from around the world.

Among them were three satellites from space startups Dauria Aerospace and Sputnix, both affiliated with state innovation center Skolkovo. Together, Dauria and Sputnix became the first private Russian companies to ever have their equipment launched into space.

A larger unit owned by Russian satellite startup Sputnix also hitched a road aboard the Dnepr rocket late Thursday evening. Known as TabletSat-Aurora, the satellite is a commercial demo intended mainly to “obtain necessary flight qualification and experience for further upgrade of the platform,” according to a description of the Dnepr's launch manifest provided by Kosmotras, the company that sells launches of the rocket.

Along with its research function, Sputnix's satellite will go into immediate commercial use by providing Earth observation and remote sensing data to private consumers — a service that has practical commercial applications for farming, resource exploration, traffic management and a myriad of other worldly concerns.

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