Terran Orbital developed new standard satellite buses based on satellites the company has produced for civil, defense and commercial customers. Credit: Terran Orbital

SAN FRANCISCO — Terran Orbital unveiled a family of seven standard satellite buses Sept. 6. Fueled prior to launch, the new satellites will weigh between 14 and 1,000 kilograms.

“The buses, featuring interchangeable components and modules, are payload agnostic. They can do communications, electro-optical, synthetic aperture radar,” Marc Bell, Terran Orbital co-founder, chairman and CEO, told SpaceNews. “The mission you choose will determine the bus size you use.”

Working Together

Terran Orbital, one of the companies that developed the cubesat standard, also supplies buses for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture through Lockheed Martin.

“Standards are more important than ever,” Bell said, as organizations like the SDA develop constellations that require satellites from multiple vendors to work together.  

“With this announcement we are again setting the bar high with an industry-leading product line,” Bell said in a statement. “While we still offer fully custom platforms to meet unique specifications, we are creating new industry standards” to “drive down the cost of the satellite and increase their functionality using standard components that roll up into configurations that quickly and effectively satisfy the needs of the DoD and research customer alike.”

Terran Orbital developed the new standards based on satellites the company has produced for civil, defense and commercial customers.

Nano, Micro and Small

The new product includes buses of various shapes and sizes.

  • Enterprise is the largest bus. As many as 24 are designed to be packed flat in a launch fairing.
  • Ambassador, a large ESPA-Grande bus, is designed to appeal to defense and intelligence customers seeking room for a large payload and Type 1 encryption.
  • Nebula, a commercial version of the bus Lockheed Martin and Terran Orbital supplied for the SDA Transport Layer Tranche O, can “accommodate oddly shaped payloads with optional Type 1 encryption and can be configured for a 15-inch ESPA or 23- inch ESPA-Grande-capable launch vehicle,” according to the news release.
  • Excelsior is a small microsatellite. Two Excelsiors can be launched on an ESPA port.
  •  Voyager includes redundant components to withstand for harsh environments beyond low-Earth orbit. Voyager components draw heritage from nanosatellites sent to geosynchronous and cislunar orbit, and its radios are designed to communicate with NASA’s Deep Space network.
  • Renegade, a 12- or 16-unit nanosatellite, is designed for research missions. It can accommodate “exceptionally long payloads” like a 19-centimeter-diameter optical imager, Terran Orbital said.
  • Triumph, the smallest bus, is a nanosatellite with extensive flight heritage.

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...