Welcome to Dragonfly Aerospace. This is the latest chapter in a proud history of South African space engineering and space missions. Our team has a strong experience and heritage dating back to the first earth observation satellite missions starting in the 1980’s through to our most recent satellite launch in 2018 and imager launch in 2020. Members of our team have worked on every microsatellite space mission since South Africa entered the space race.
Dragonfly Aerospace has a vision to create compact high-performance imaging satellites and payloads that are designed for large imaging constellations that provide persistent views of the Earth in a wide range of spectrums enabling unprecedented business intelligence and improving the lives of people around the world.
The dragonfly has excellent vision, agility and stability, the same as our high-resolution imaging satellites. The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the best in the animal kingdom. Some have over 30 colour receptors like our hyperspectral imagers. A compound eye is good analogy for our large constellations of imaging satellites with numerous objectives imaging simultaneously to create a complete picture. A dragonfly’s eyes provide a 360-degree field of vision just as our satellite constellations provide a 360-degree view of the Earth.
Dragonfly Aerospace is investing in a 3000m² design and manufacturing facility with 1000m² of cleanroom areas for microsatellite constellation production. The facility is situated in the technology hub of the Western Cape, called Techno Park, overlooking the vineyards and mountains of Stellenbosch. The facility is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport.
The facility consists of satellite and imager assembly cleanrooms, development and environmental test labs and office areas. The satellite assembly clean rooms are ISO 8 controlled while the imager assembly clean rooms are ISO 7 controlled and ISO 6 flow cabinets are used for imager focal plane assemblies.
We are planning a production line with up to 16 satellites being built in parallel and up to 48 satellites produced per year. The facility is designed to build satellites from 50kg to 600kg and imagers from 1U CubeSat imagers to 400mm aperture sub-metre imagers. It is intended to serve commercial and civil space customers.
Dragonfly Aerospace satellites and payloads are based on a 25-year heritage of components and design approach dating back to the first South African microsatellite, SUNSAT, launched in 1999. SUNSAT was completely developed by South African engineers and almost all components were designed and built in South Africa. Members of the Dragonfly Aerospace team performed key roles on 7 satellites and another 6 payloads built and launched with local and international customers during this 25-year period. These missions have seen a continual evolution and upgrading of the technology as lessons were learnt in space. The heritage satellites range in mass from 64kg to over 400kg with 12m resolution on SUNSAT to sub-metre resolution on more recent satellites. SUNSAT has subsequently been recognized to have taken the best high-resolution images by any microsatellite at the start of the 21st century.
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