A shot from the January launch of the Stardust 1.0, bluShift Aerospace’s first rocket. Courtesy of bluShift Aerospace

BluShift Aerospace announced Thursday its first major space delivery deal with MaxIQ, a STEM company in Virginia. The deal marks another step for the Brunswick-based aerospace company as it works to adopt a business model, coined the “Uber of Space,” for sending payloads into orbit.

Gov. Janet Mills and bluShift Aerospace CEO Sasha Deri during the governor’s visit to the company headquarters. Courtesy of bluShift Aerospace

The agreement allows MaxIQ to send many as 60 payloads per launch, and a minimum of two launches per year. It is an ongoing deal with no set expiration.

A payload typically consists of satellites, experiments. In the case of MaxIQ, payloads will be various experiments that serve students in the STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math — fields. The company works with Princeton and Stanford universities, among other academic institutions

The deal represents roughly $2,000-$2,500 per student payload.

“Until bluShift came along, MaxIQ had not been able to secure a reliable launch partner for student-led science payloads,” MaxIQ President Judi Sandrock stated in a news release. “It is very important to be able to secure affordable space launches for student payloads so that students may further their academic research and help all of humanity understand the dramatic changes taking place here on Earth.”

MaxIQ has already sent around 1,000 student payloads to space through 80 launches. The company is also involved with a student-led data collection project on the International Space Station.

BluShift Aerospace made headlines in January after the first-ever successful launch in the world of a commercial rocket using bio-derived fuel.

“This ongoing purchase order from MaxIQ signals the strong demand for affordable and frequent science payloads to space,” said bluShift CEO and founder Sascha Deri. “We are incredibly excited to provide MaxIQ with launches that are not only flexible and cost-competitive, but that are powered by a bio-derived, nontoxic fuel.”

In a press conference, Deri said the deal represented a major milestone for the company, founded in 2014. The agreement includes test flights, suborbital launches and, eventually, orbital launches.

The two companies have collaborated before, as MaxIQ and bluShift worked last January with an all-female team of Falmouth High School students to send launch a data-gathering payload.

Deri also said that, while the company is close to narrowing in on the next launch location, it is too soon for an announcement.

“I continue to be in heavy conversations with a potential site in Washington County,” Deri said. “I remain optimistic that we might be able to secure this location … with any luck within a month or two I will be able to announce that location or one of the alternatives.”

The company is continuing to work on its next rocket, dubbed Starless Rogue, and hopes to launch in spring 2022. Deri said that the a final version of Starless Rogue will occur by the end of summer next year, if all goes to plan.

In early April, bluShift opened a $1 million crowdfunding campaign, and as of Thursday the company had raised around $565,000 through over 600 investors. According to a release from the company, the nanosatellite launch market is projected to hit $69 billion by the year 2030.

The company is also in the final round of Greenlight Maine, an entrepreneurial television show with a $25,000 grand prize. The winner will be announced next week.

BluShift is based out of Brunswick Landing, site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has courted businesses in aerospace and other tech fields as it redevelops commercial use at the former base.

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