Benchmark expands staff and facilities to meet demand
SAN FRANCISCO — Benchmark Space Systems has nearly tripled its staff and established manufacturing facilities to produce as many as 1,000 engines in the United States and United Kingdom over five years.
Benchmark has booked more than 250 engine orders. Most of the engines are being built and tested at the company’s Burlington, Vermont, headquarters. However, the company also has manufacturing and test facilities in California and the United Kingdom.
Benchmark staff grew from 30 to 83 people in the last 12 months. Key new hires include Wesley Grove, senior operations manager, Matt Bradley, vice president of finance, and Kent Frankovich, vice president of electric propulsion.
While boosting manufacturing capacity, Benchmark has expanded its guidance, navigation and control software-engineering organization. That organization is focused on thrusters, positioning subsystems and SmartAIM Guidance, Navigation and Control software for satellites equipped with the Benchmark’s Halcyon high-test peroxide thrusters and Xantus metal plasma thrusters.
Benchmark is ready to begin manufacturing propulsion system in the U.K. Benchmark announced plans in May to establish a manufacturing and test facility at the Westcott Innovation Centre. By working with the U.K.-based Satellite Applications Catapult, Benchmark was able to set up its U.K. assembly and clean room in less than six months.
In the U.K., Benchmark will begin producing Halcyon Avant bipropellant systems for Space Forge, a company based in Wales focused on producing high-value materials in orbit to bring to Earth.
Benchmark first demonstrated its chemical propulsion on an undisclosed government satellite in 2021. Since then company has demonstrated its “breakthrough chemical, electric and hybrid propulsion systems,” Benchmark CEO Ryan McDevitt said in a statement.
As a result, Benchmark will be filling “major engine orders” in the coming months, McDevitt said. “Benchmark is inking major contracts to enable mission-critical government and commercial space programs, and we have the people and infrastructure in place to deliver on the exciting demand,” he added.
Mark Arthur, Benchmark’s European operations director, called Benchmark’s U.K. facility “an important piece” of the company’s global strategy.
“We are now very well positioned to meet the specific needs of the European space market with tailored chemical, electric and hybrid propulsion solutions,” Arthur said in a statement. “We expect to conduct our first hot fire testing early next year.”