Space Flight Laboratory and Kepler Communications announce collaboration on fully operational nanosa


Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), a developer of microspace missions for over 21 years, is designing and building the first fully operational nanosatellite in Kepler Communications’ next-generation constellation of communications satellites. In addition, SFL is helping Kepler to set up their own manufacturing workflow at a new facility in Toronto where subsequent nanosatellites will be mass produced based on the design of the first satellite. SFL is specifically designing the first satellite with mass production in mind.

“Our collaboration with Kepler is an excellent example of how a microspace company can support the business model of a newspace organization,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee. “Kepler is able to leverage the extensive design expertise, heritage, and on-orbit performance of SFL and combine that with the cost benefits of inhouse manufacturing.”

Headquartered in Toronto, Kepler Communications develops next-generation satellite communication technologies and provides global data backhaul services for wideband and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. With two demonstration satellites in orbit and another planned for launch this year, Kepler specializes in providing affordable high-capacity connectivity to underserved geographic areas.

“SFL’s abundant experience and heritage in the small satellite industry lends us confidence in the new developments and allows us to establish a baseline of technical credibility and assurance for the spacecraft that we can continue to build upon in the years ahead,” said Kepler’s CEO and co-founder Mina Mitry.

Working with Kepler on design specifications, SFL is developing a new 6U-XL nanosatellite platform tailored to accommodate the communications payload. The operational nanosatellites, referred to by Kepler as its Gen1 cluster, will incorporate significant upgrades from the demonstration satellites and offer higher data capacities.

“We are designing the Gen1 cluster with the reliability, performance, and capabilities needed to meet the demands of fully commercial operations and the newspace business model,” said SFL’s Zee.

As the first operational satellite is developed, SFL personnel will provide training and technical support to Kepler as it creates a manufacturing workflow capable of assembling and integrating the additional operational nanosatellites. This mass production will occur in a 5,000-square-foot facility Kepler has built at its headquarters in Toronto, which will enable Kepler to build and maintain its planned constellation of 140 satellites.

SFL will be exhibiting in Booth 17 at SmallSat Symposium 2020 being held February 3-6 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Established in 1998, SFL has built more than 25 distinct nano- and microsatellites with over 115 cumulative years of successful operation in orbit. Many of these microspace missions have included SFL’s trusted attitude control and formation-flying technologies.

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