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LeoStella makes a bigger mark in the satellite market

SpaceX is getting set to launch scores of satellites for its Transporter-2 rideshare mission, and one of those satellites marks a milestone for LeoStella.

Loft Orbital’s satellite, known as YAM-3 (“Yet Another Mission-3”), is the first of its kind built for San Francisco-based Loft Orbital by LeoStella, a joint venture between BlackSky and Thales Alenia Space.

All of the satellites previously shipped out from LeoStella’s factory in Tukwila, Wash., were built for BlackSky’s Earth observation constellation.

“This is the first satellite LeoStella has delivered to a customer other than BlackSky,” Brian Rider, LeoStella’s chief technology officer, told GeekWire in an email. “LeoStella successfully tailored its core production satellite as a multi-mission bus to support Loft, on a very different payload and mission. Loft is our first customer for which we applied this approach.”

YAM-3 will host a variety of payloads — including a demonstration for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack satellite constellation program, and an Internet of Things telecom payload for Eutelsat. The satellite is part of a broader contract that calls on LeoStella to build and integrate satellite buses for several upcoming Loft Orbital missions.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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