Millennium prepares for mass manufacturing

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — For the moment, Millennium Space System’s new small satellite factory looks like a series of huge rooms that are mostly empty except for powerful yellow cranes in the corners and industrial-strength power strips lining the walls.

Reporters were given a rare glimpse of the 2,787-square-meter plant before Millennium begins assembling satellites for commercial and government customers. Once satellites are moving down the assembly line, trade secrets and national security concerns are likely to prevent press tours.

The factory’s open floor plan is designed for maximum flexibility.

“This factory can do multiple different missions, multiple different sizes of smallsats and also multiple orbits,” said Millennium CEO Jason Kim. “This is a very flexible, scalable smallsat factory.”

Millennium is following a carefully choreographed plan in setting up the factory, from installing the additive-manufacturing machines sized for 3D printing satellite buses to all the equipment required for environmental testing.

First, though, employees are moving in the components and subsystems common to Millennium spacecraft like the batteries, flight computers, software-defined radios and solar array drive assemblies the company produces in-house.

“We have 22 diverse products we are going to start moving in there in a phased approach,” Kim said. “As we grow and as the customers demand more constellations, we’re going to build up.”

Sometime this fall, Millennium plans to achieve full operational capability, meaning “all the tooling, all the people and all the processes are in place,” Kim said.

This story originally appeared in the April 4, 2022 issue of SpaceNews’ Space Symposium Show Daily.