Space Flight Laboratory and Kepler Communications Collaborate on Fully Operational Nanosatellite Constellation

Space Flight Laboratory’s (SFL) expertise has been enlisted by Kepler Communications to design and build Kepler’s first operational nano satellite that will be the beginning of a constellation of communications satellites. In addition, SFL will assist Kepler in establishing a production facility in Toronto where nanosatellites will be mass produced based on the design of this first satellite by SFL. 

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 currently is exhibiting in Booth 17 at SmallSat Symposium 2020 from February 3-6 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

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. Established in 1998, SFL has built more than 25 distinct nano- and microsatellites with over 115 cumulative years of successful operation in orbit.

Kepler Communications’ headquarters is in Toronto, where for more than 21 years the company has developed 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 Director Dr. Robert E. Zee stated that their collaboration with Kepler is an excellent example of how a microspace company can support the business model of a newspace organization. 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.

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

Dr. Zee continued that they 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.


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