News from the 64th International Astronautical Congress | Andrews Space Books a Third Satellite Order

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BEIJING — Small-satellite manufacturer Andrews Space has sold a third satellite to an unidentified customer in addition to the two-satellite order booked earlier this year and will deliver all three satellites in 2014, Andrews Chief Executive Jason Andrews said.

The first could be launched as early as late 2014, Andrews said in a presentation to the 64th International Astronautical Congress in Beijing.

Andrews said the company is able to build satellites with electro-optical payloads providing a 1-meter ground sampling distance for less than $5 million per satellite. Tukwila, Wash.-based Andrews makes most of the key components for its line of Sentry satellite skeletal platforms and then purchases the optical payload sensors from a third-party vendor.

Andrews declined to identify the manufacturer of the optical payloads, which will be used with the Sentry 4000 platform. Total satellite mass is about 50 kilograms at launch. He said the satellites are designed to operate for up to three years in an orbit of between 450 and 500 kilometers. The 1-meter-resolution imager has a field of view measuring 4 kilometers by 6 kilometers.

The imagery resolution drops to 1.2 meters when the satellite is swiveled off its nadir by up to 30 degrees, he said.

The company recently concluded the critical design review for the Sentry 4000. Once production begins, Andrews said, the company may be able to reduce the per-satellite cost to less than $3.5 million depending on the payload options and the number of satellites ordered.

The company’s approach to low-cost satellite building is based on “careful parts selection to vertically integrate to the greatest possible extent [to] minimize reliance on external suppliers,” Andrews said. Some of the components are controlled by U.S. technology-export regulations, for which licenses are needed before shipment to non-U.S. customers.