NanoAvionics expands into heavier smallsat market

by

LOGAN, Utah — NanoAvionics said Aug. 10 it has extended its range of modular satellite buses in another step toward the heavier end of the small satellite market.

The addition of the MP42D bus enables the Lithuanian smallsat maker to host more powerful customer payloads of up to 145 kilograms. 

This opens up new applications for customers, NanoAvionics CEO and co-founder Vytenis Buzas said, including synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery that requires larger antennas. 

With payload envelope dimensions starting at 74 x 73 x 50 centimeters, he said MP42D could also be used as an orbital transfer vehicle.

The bus is based on NanoAvionics’ flagship MP42 platform that gained flight heritage in April, marking the company’s expansion out of the 10-kilogram-and-under nanosatellite class. 

NanoAvionics also announced another bus based on this platform, the MP42H, for payloads of up to 22 kilograms.

The initial MP42 sits in the middle of the two new buses and can accommodate payloads of up to 75 kilograms.

Lower launch costs in the industry are encouraging operators to order heavier and more powerful satellites to improve capabilities and forge new markets, Buzas told SpaceNews on the sidelines of the Small Satellite Conference here.

MP42D and MP42H buses are already in production after securing customers that he declined to disclose.

According to Buzas, demand from customers is currently split 50/50 between nanosatellites and its larger set of satellites, despite only announcing the MP42 product line in March 2021.

The market for nanosatellites is still growing, he added, but not as fast as it is for larger spacecraft.

The product announcement comes a month after Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace bought a majority stake in NanoAvionics for about $67 million.

Despite its new owners and a portfolio branching out into heavier satellite classes, the company is sticking to its NanoAvionics branding for the time being.

“We do not have any plans to rename ourselves to MicroAvionics,” Buzas quipped, “NanomicroAvionis or SmallAvionics.”