Space Flight Laboratory Adapts to Changing Market with Another Flex Production Contract

HawkEye 360 staff complete integration of Cluster 7 satellites with technology and training from SFL. Credit: HawkEye 360.

Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) today announced another contract with Virginia based HawkEye 360 that will see SFL design, assemble, and integrate three microsatellites, and provide technical integration support for another 12 satellites.

HawkEye 360 has been growing its of radio frequency (RF) geolocation microsatellite constellation and now has 15 of 60 planned satellites in-orbit. It’s next launch of Cluster 6 is scheduled for no earlier than December 7 by Rocket Lab. Each HawkEye 360 Cluster has three satellites.

The next phase is the development of an additional 15 microsatellites, five clusters, Clusters 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. SFL will design, assemble, and integrate Cluster 9.

Previously SFL had developed the first “three-satellite Pathfinder Cluster on its 15-kg NEMO bus and then built Clusters 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 on its space-proven 30-kg DEFIANT microsatellite bus.”

The contract SFL signed is similar to a previous one with Kepler Communications which saw the company design, assemble, and integrate an initial batch of microsatellites and then support Kepler in-house development of their satellites.

HawkEye 360 will build Clusters 7, 8, 10, and 11 in-house in Virginia with support provided by SFL. The support contract is part of SFL’s Flex Production program, a realization that some companies want to build in-house.

SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee said “Flex Production offers NewSpace companies the best of two worlds – they can leverage SFL’s Microspace expertise while satisfying the financial requirements of the NewSpace business model. NewSpace companies can mass produce satellites in-house at a price point that works for them.”

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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