AST&Science picks Midland for Micron satellites

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SAN FRANCISCO – Avellan Space Technology & Science announced plans Nov. 15 to begin building extremely small satellites in 2019 at its new North American manufacturing plant in Midland, Texas.

AST&Science was founded in 2017 by Abel Avellan, who established and led Emerging Market Communications before selling it for $550 million in June 2016 to Global Eagle Entertainment. Avellan then served as Global Eagle president and chief strategy officer until April 2017.

AST&Science plans to invest more than $30 million in a new 7,897-square-meter manufacturing facility at the Space Port Business Park at the Midland International Air and Space Port. There, it will produce annually as many as 100,000 satellites, called Microns, that weigh approximately 200 grams and “are designed to work in concert with larger nanosatellites and microsatellites,” according to a December press release.

AST&Science and its subsidiary AST&Defense have research and development, engineering and manufacturing facilities in Maryland and Europe, as well.

In March, AST&Science announced it acquired a controlling interest in NanoAvionics, a spinoff of Lithuania’s Vilnius University. In July, AST&Science announced Cisneros, a Miami-based investment group, made “a significant investment.” The firm declined to disclose the value of its NanoAvionics investment or of the Cisneros investment.

In August 2017, NanoAvionics announced it raised 3.2 million euros ($3.7 million) for its campaign to commercialize a non-toxic monopropellant and performed a successful in-orbit test of the chemical propulsion system.