Jan 7, 2020

Speeding up spacecraft development

Earth from space. Photo: NASA

York Space Systems is offering a new series of missions using its standardized spacecraft to fit the needs of a variety of customers.

Why it matters: As more companies and government entities work to launch small satellites to orbit, this kind of standardization could help to cut down on development time, getting experiments, technology demonstrations and other payloads qualified for spaceflight more quickly.

  • "We were able to get the spacecraft assembled and integrated and delivered for launch within about four months," York Space Systems' Melanie Preisser told Axios of the company's satellite launch in May 2019.

Details: Once a customer has developed a payload — like an imaging sensor — they will bring it to York, which will then manage testing and integration onto one of the company's spacecraft for the Hydra Mission Series.

  • The service costs about $3 million to orbit, according to York, with some customers paying as little as $300,000.
  • Once in orbit, the satellites will beam encrypted information back to customers on Earth.
  • York expects its first mission in the Hydra series to launch in December 2020.

Yes, but: It's not yet clear exactly how large the small satellite market will be going forward, potentially limiting the customers for this kind of standardized spacecraft in the future.

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