Redwire and Sodern to cooperate on star tracker

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PARIS — Redwire and Sodern announced a partnership Sept. 12 where Redwire will produce in the U.S. a version of a Sodern star tracker.

The companies signed a teaming agreement during World Satellite Business Week here to allow Redwire to manufacture in the United States a star tracker based on Sodern’s Hydra star tracker built in Europe.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve had a number of customers come to us in the United States and asked us if we built high-end, sophisticated star trackers at the level of Hydra,” Peter Cannito, chief executive of Redwire, said at the signing ceremony. Redwire and its heritage companies did not, and that started 18 months of discussions with Sodern on a manufacturing partnership.

Under the agreement, Redwire will make a star tracker called Eagle Eye based on Sodern’s Hydra. Manufacturing of Eagle Eye will start in the “near term,” he said once a production line is set up at a Redwire facility in Massachusetts. “We already have customers who are very interested in it,” he noted, although Redwire did not take any orders in advance of signing the agreement.

Those customers, he said, are those who want a U.S. source for a star tracker for national security needs or just the convenience of working with a domestic supplier. “That’s one of the big drivers of the capability.”

“Eagle Eye will benefit from the heritage of the Sodern Hydra star tracker,” said Vincent Dedieu, deputy chief executive of Sodern. Hydra has flown on more than 60 spacecraft launched in the last decade, including the GOES-R line of weather satellites and the Pléiades Neo series of Earth observation satellites.

Both executives said the agreement opened the door for additional cooperation in the future. Sodern makes several other cameras, while Redwire produces a range of components.

“From our perspective, this is a first step,” said Cannito. “Eagle Eye is the pathfinder here for what we hope to be a long-term, mutually beneficial agreement.”

“We don’t want to embrace too many projects at the same time, so we will make this one work, and then I’m sure we will have others,” Dedieu said.