LeoStella will be supersizing its small satellites

Tukwila, Wash.-based LeoStella is unveiling its latest, greatest platform for small satellites, which should hit a sweet spot for future manufacturing contracts.

LeoStella, which is a joint venture co-owned by European satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space and a geospatial data analysis company called BlackSky, started out in 2018 building Earth observation satellites for BlackSky’s Global constellation.

LeoStella’s LS-100 spacecraft platform, which is known in the space industry as a bus, was right-sized for those 120-pound (55-kilogram) satellites. But that was about as much mass as the LS-100 bus could accommodate.

When BlackSky came up with a more capable payload for its Gen3 satellites, LeoStella boosted its bus design to handle the added mass. Its LS-200 bus is suitable for satellites with a total weight of 330 pounds (150 kilograms), including 130 pounds (60 kilograms) of payload.

Now there’s a growing demand for a bigger class of small satellites, and LeoStella’s LS-300 bus is designed to serve that demand. The LS-300 design, unveiled in conjunction with this week’s Small Satellite Conference in Utah, can be used for satellites weighing 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms), with half of that mass available for the satellite’s payload.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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