Dragonfly Aerospace, producer of compact high-performance imaging payloads, is pleased to announce that it will start producing satellite buses and complete imaging satellites.
Today is a key moment in Dragonfly Aerospace’s path towards competing with the established leaders in space imaging technology. Dragonfly has two new products: the 100kg class µDragonfly satellite bus and the 200kg class Dragonfly satellite bus. The µDragonfly bus product is targeted at electro-optical imagers while the Dragonfly bus is designed for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads. The compact high-performance satellite bus products provide flexible interfaces to support a wide range of customer payloads.
Since Dragonfly Aerospace began its rapid growth process with the support of space entrepreneur Max Polyakov, the imaging systems specialists have set an ambitious goal for themselves to build up to 48 imaging satellites per year. In only the second year of operating, thanks to the experience of the team and the excellent facilities and equipment in-house, Dragonfly Aerospace is already preparing for the launch of its first satellite in 2022 based on the µDragonfly satellite bus. The Dragonfly team has over 20 years of experience building and launching many high-performance imaging satellites.
Dragonfly has now completed the upgrade of its 3000m2 design and manufacturing facility in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This marks a turning point in the company’s progression as it starts actively ramping up for the serial production of satellites and payloads. Compared to other established NewSpace players, Dragonfly is already in a strong position to rapidly accelerate technology production to meet market demand. In the next few years, Dragonfly plans to deliver 10 satellites per year and already in 2022 is preparing for the production of 4 satellites.
The new µDragonfly satellite bus is designed for constellation deployment. Three satellites can be launched side-by-side in a 2.2m payload fairing. The attitude control system of the bus provides excellent stability and accuracy which is important for high-performance imaging. The satellite bus also has a highly capable power system that can support a large amount of imaging and downlinking per orbit. The satellite bus provides high data rate transmitters which enable the downloading of large volumes of image data each day. The satellite bus can accommodate payloads with a diameter of up to 500mm and a mass of up to 60kg. The satellite bus is designed for a five-year lifetime and provides full redundancy on all components.
The Dragonfly satellite bus was designed for high power payloads such as a SAR imager. It can supply the payload with up to 3.5kW power and an orbit average power of 630W. The satellite bus can accommodate payloads with a footprint of up to 1m x 1m and a mass of up to 250kg. The satellite bus is designed for an eight-year lifetime and provides full redundancy on all components. Both products include xenon electric propulsion for orbit correction and maintenance.
Due to manufacturing the majority of the satellite bus components in-house, the price of the Dragonfly satellite bus products is dramatically lower compared to established players. This is a critical enabler for deploying large constellations of satellites. The other important enabler is ensuring the systems are compact and low mass.
“This is the next important step in the evolution of Dragonfly Aerospace. Our team has extensive experience developing and launching high-performance imaging satellites in the past and it is now time to translate that experience into modern satellite bus products that take advantage of the latest technologies and meet the needs of the market in terms of performance and serial production capability”, said Dragonfly Aerospace CEO Bryan Dean.