LOGAN, Utah — Canadian launch startup SpaceRyde announced Aug. 8 that it has added a second member to its advisory board with the appointment of Mina Mitry, CEO of small satellite operator Kepler Communications.

Mitry joins Jeff Thornburg, SpaceRyde’s first advisory board member and former vice president of propulsion engineering at SpaceX.

Kepler, also based in Canada, operates 19 cubesats that provide low data rate connectivity to devices beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. The operator is also planning a data relay constellation of larger satellites which it expects to start deploying in 2023.

SpaceRyde said Mitry’s expertise will help the startup scale up operations as it plans to fly its first commercial mission in 2024.

Founded in 2018, SpaceRyde is developing a small three-stage rocket that would fire engines after a balloon lifts it above most of Earth’s atmosphere.

SpaceRyde CEO Sohrab Haghighat said he plans to launch test payloads to sub-orbit and low Earth orbit (LEO) next year ahead of his first commercial mission, which is for a biotech customer. not disclosed.

“The customer needs ultimate flexibility in mission planning and can only deliver the payload to be integrated into the rocket a few hours before launch,” Haghighat said on the sidelines of the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah. .

“As you can imagine, they can’t use rideshare missions and need a private rocket.”

SpaceRyde eventually plans to develop 20-meter-tall rockets that, after launching a customer payload, would leave their third stage in orbit for future missions.

Called Black Bay, this third stage would use a liquid fuel engine for applications such as in-orbit servicing and missions to the Moon.

Haghighat said SpaceRyde plans to send two rockets to LEO in the fourth quarter of 2024. One would refuel the other, which would then fly on a demonstration mission around the moon and back.

“This mission is a milestone not just for SpaceRyde, but for the industry as it will showcase the first-ever general-purpose rocket,” he said.

SpaceRyde has secured $10 million so far, he added, and plans to raise another round of funding early next year to fund its plans.