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LeoStella Debuts Advance Small Satellite Bus Platform

LeoStella the small satellite manufacturer has announced significant details about its latest and largest spacecraft, the LS300 satellite bus.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Mon Aug 07 2023Written by Zac Aubert

LeoStella the small satellite manufacturer has announced significant details about its latest and largest spacecraft, the LS300 satellite bus.

The company aims to deliver the first two 500-kilogram-class satellites utilizing this new platform to a commercial radar constellation customer in the coming summer. The LS300 satellite bus represents a remarkable leap in capability compared to its predecessor, the LS200.

With dimensions comparable to a small yacht at 10 meters in length, the LS300 boasts more than twice the mass of the LS200. This increased size and power capacity are geared towards more demanding missions, making it an attractive option for customers pursuing contracts with the Space Development Agency (SDA).

The key innovation lies in the LS300's enhanced solar array design, enabling it to deliver an impressive one kilowatt of power, 25 times more than the LS200.

The LS300's innovative solar panel configuration, allowing panels to protrude from the satellite instead of covering its surface, presents a substantial increase in power generation efficiency. This design enhancement aligns with the industry trend towards larger spacecraft, capitalizing on the declining costs of launches and the availability of rocket rideshares.

“We’ve already secured our first LS-300 customer, which is a testament that our updated bus platform meets the evolving needs of the satellite market...LeoStella offers co-engineering services which enable us to efficiently provide satellites that are optimized to specific customer requirements.” - Tim Kienberger, CEO of LeoStella

LS300's expanded power and payload capabilities position it as an ideal candidate for the burgeoning military network in low Earth orbit, a focus of the U.S. Space Force's Space Development Agency. This significant power boost equips the spacecraft with advanced on-orbit processing and data storage capabilities, making it better suited for SDA's requirements, including optical inter-satellite links and radio frequency downlink and uplink capabilities.

While the identity of the LS300's first customer remains undisclosed confidence is high that the LS300 will garner a large level of interest.

“The LS-300 satellite bus is well-positioned to meet the varied needs of customers seeking access to space...Loft Orbital has had great success with LeoStella’s established bus platforms. I’m confident the updated LS-300 bus platform will enhance the company’s already established reputation.” - Pierre-Damien Vaujour, CEO of Loft Orbital

The LS300 could pave the way for LeoStella's entry into the communications satellite market, potentially marking a new chapter in the company's growth trajectory.

LeoStella, jointly owned by BlackSky and Thales Alenia Space, has established itself as a leader in the small satellite industry. Of the 19 LeoStella satellite buses currently in low Earth orbit, 16 were developed for BlackSky's geospatial intelligence satellites, while three were commissioned by condo satellite operator Loft Orbital.

LeoStella's move towards larger spacecraft mirrors a broader trend in the small satellite market, as companies like Terran Orbital and NanoAvionics also explore larger platforms to accommodate more sophisticated payloads. Terran Orbital, for example, has gradually expanded from its origins with cubesats less than 1.33 kilograms to its current 800-kilogram offering.

As the small satellite industry continues to evolve and adapt to the changing demands of space exploration, LeoStella's LS300 satellite bus stands as a testament to the company's commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is achievable in this exciting field.