Image of the Nile River captured by a York Space Systems S-Class satellite. Credit: York Space Systems

SAN FRANCISCO – York Space Systems, a small satellite manufacturer and spacecraft operator, opened an office and mission operations center Dec. 5 in the Washington area.

The five-person office, based in Arlington, Virginia, will handle government relations, business development and mission planning for commercial and government customers. In addition, customers visiting the new mission operations center will be able to task satellites.

Government policymakers and acquisition personnel don’t always know what products and services are available commercially, said Chuck Beames, the retired U.S. Air Force colonel who serves as York’s chairman. York is eager to invite government customers to its new mission operations center to see and operate satellites in orbit, Beames said. “We want them to see how easy it is,” he added.

Denver-based York Space Systems does not reveal information on its financing, nor does it frequently announce contract awards. In recent months, though, the firm has offered clues to steady growth.

In October, York announced plans to expand production facilities for its S-Class satellites, gearing up to producing 50 satellites in 2020 and hundreds of satellites annually in later years. York also won a $12.8 million Air Force contract in July to build a microsatellite called Tetra-3, Aviation Week reported.

York’s latest announcement offers further evidence that government agencies are buying the firm’s small satellites. “Many of York’s key government customers are in the Washington D.C. area, including the Pentagon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the intelligence community,” according to the Dec. 5 news release.

The agencies mentioned are either current York customers or are “very likely to become customers in the near future,” Beames said. “I’m not at liberty to discuss the details.”

York, a firm founded in 2015, waited until it had working products before establishing a government relations office, Beames said.

York’s primary and secondary mission operations centers are located in Denver. However, if a commercial or government customer wanted York to operate spacecraft from the new mission operations center in Virginia, York could do that, Beames said. The new mission operations center is designed to handle one to three satellites but could be expanded, he added.

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...