Flight Laboratory (SFL), a developer of 52 distinct small satellites over 22 years, has announced the launch of the Kepler-4 and Kepler-5 CubeSats. These two satellites, benefit fromthe extensive flight heritage possessed by SFL. Additionally, SFL played an instrumental role in the development of theproduction workflow at Kepler that will enable Kepler to produce additional satellites to deliver the GEN1 constellation.
“The successful development and launch of the Kepler-4 and -5 communications satellites mark a new chapter in thecollaboration between microspace and newspace organizations,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee. “For its newspaceendeavor, Kepler has utilized our two decades of microspace design and development expertise and then leveraged this forcost-effective in-house mass production.”
The two 6U-XL CubeSats were launched September 28, 2020, aboard a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle from the PlesetskCosmodrome in Russia. Within hours of launch, both satellites were in communication with Kepler ground control andwere functioning as planned.
“Leveraging SFL's experience we have a high degree of confidence in the performance of these satellites. This will pavethe way towards our GEN1 constellation and future spacecraft in our network," said Director of Space Systems, JaredBottoms.
Kepler-4 and -5 are the first service-focused CubeSats in Kepler Communications’ constellation that will ultimately include 140 satellites. SFL developed Kepler-4 in concert with Kepler, which is based on SFL’s new SPARTAN 6U-XL CubeSat design, with mass production in mind. As Kepler-4 was in production, SFL personnel provided training and technicalsupport to Kepler in creating the manufacturing workflow capable of assembling and integrating the additional satellites ata 5,000-square-foot facility adjacent to Kepler headquarters in Toronto.
“We designed our SPARTAN 6U-XL bus - along with two other new CubeSat platforms - to cost effectively meet thereliability, performance and capability demands of fully commercial operations,” said SFL’s Zee.
Established in 1998, SFL has designed and built 52 distinct nano- and microsatellites with 24 under construction andnearing launch and another 28 launched (23 of which are still operational), totaling over 128 cumulative years of successful operation in orbit. Many of these microspace missions have included SFL’s trusted attitude control andformation-flying technologies.