MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Growing demand for small satellites that are built quickly and cheaply is challenging manufacturers who want that business but don’t want to forsake lessons learned from building bigger spacecraft.
Manufacturers speaking Oct. 10 at the Satellite Innovation conference here said they are trying to evolve their approaches to mission assurance — making sure what they build doesn’t fail in orbit — so that they can respond to a wider swath of customers.
“It is a real challenge,” said Bill Hanson, a mission success director at Lockheed Martin Space. “There is a lot of heritage and scar tissue built up in all of our different processes that we have. We don’t want to throw that away, but you want to apply it judiciously.”
Jeff Osterkamp, Ball Aerospace vice president, said spacecraft built for the U.S. Defense Department still have very exacting standards, but other customers asking for smallsats and “disaggregated” constellations place heightened emphasis on low cost and rapid production.
“The challenge for us is to try to attain mission assurance standards throughout the factory that can be accepted by the commercial customers, by NASA and by people that want rapid, fast, small, cheap satellites,” added ...