ExoTerra Resources, a propulsion and in-situ resources utilization firm founded in 2011, has expanded its staff and moved into a larger facility in Littleton, Colorado, to quadruple production capacity. Credit: ExoTerra Resources

SAN FRANCISCO – ExoTerra Resources, a Colorado firm focused on propulsion and in-situ resource utilization, is preparing to quadruple production capacity to meet government and commercial demand.

ExoTerra plans to move Sept. 1 into a 1,022 square meter facility in Littleton, Colorado. Once there, ExoTerra will be able to produce 200 propulsion units per year, compared with 50 in its current facility.

“Our new facility will allow our business to match our customers’ requirements and schedules using a modular production area that can be reconfigured to changing demands,” Michael VanWoerkom, ExoTerra president and CEO, said in a statement. The new facility will be equipped with flexible manufacturing systems, a modular cleanroom, welding, electronics manufacturing and assembly, and a verification testing equipment, he added.

ExoTerra has grown rapidly in the last year, nearly doubling its staff to 35 people. Some of the demand stems from U.S. Air Force and NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts.

ExoTerra won a $749,000 NASA SBIR contract in 2019 for a miniature solar electric propulsion system with xenon fuel to help cubesats alter or maintain their orbits. Last year, NASA awarded ExoTerra $125,000 to design and demonstrate a spacecraft power system that relies on miniature Brayton Cycle components.

ExoTerra also won a commercial contract from an undisclosed customer for a 2021 flight demonstration.

In December 2021, NASA plans to launch ExoTerra’s high-impulse solar-electric propulsion system into orbit on a cubesat. ExoTerra is developing the solar-electric propulsion technology with $2 million from NASA’s Tipping Point program, an initiative to identify promising commercial space technologies with future NASA applications.

ExoTerra raised $1.5 million in 2018 for its efforts to develop solar-electric propulsion for small satellites.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...