Successful test for Harris Corp.’s ‘small’ satellite technology
A growing market in space involves smaller satellites, and Harris Corp. plans to be a big player.
The Melbourne-headquartered Harris has announced it successfully launched and communicated with its first small satellite, or “smallsat.” The Harris smallsat was on India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Nov. 28.
It was part of a payload that included an earth observation satellite and 30 small satellites from eight countries, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation.
Harris said it’s operating its smallsat from its satellite operations center and ground station in Palm Bay. All indications so far is that the briefcase-sized satellite is “performing as expected.”
“HSAT’s successful launch and initial testing showcases our ability to design, build and operate a small, lightweight satellite that can be affordably launched as a ‘rideshare’ with other satellites on the same rocket,” Bill Gattle, president of Harris Space and Intelligence System, said in a statement. “It can then be reconfigured in space — enabling customers to upgrade or reprogram the application on orbit.”
Smallsats are looked upon as a growing niche market of about $3 billion that’s expected to more than triple in size by 2028. One big reason is that smallsatas are much more inexpensive these days is because of the miniaturization of what used to be lumbering satellite components and the standardization of satellite parts
Earlier this year, SpaceWorks Engineering, based in Atlanta, said more than 300 satellites weighing between 1 and 50 kilograms launched in 2017. That was far greater than the 182 small satellite launches predicted for last year.
For its part, Harris has been awarded multiple smallsat pathfinder missions in advance of the November launch of HSAT.
Harris said it’s adapting technologies used in its high-performance sensors and payloads, satellite ground systems, and advanced data analytics capabilities for smallsat platforms “for critical mission needs.”
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