York Space Systems, a small-satellite manufacturer and operator, is launching what it calls its Hydra Missions series, aimed at getting more customers in space faster.
The first of the Denver-based company’s missions is scheduled for December, said Melanie Preisser, vice president of York’s national systems. York said last week that the Hydra series of spacecraft will allow companies to send a full payload or specific parts or components into space.
York is one of a growing number of companies specializing in small satellites, considered an evolution in space technology. The dimensions of the spacecraft vary, from the size of a wine box, to a hotel mini fridge and larger. York’s S-Class platform is similar in size to a standard office desk.
Small satellites provide services for the military well as companies dependent on global positioning system technology. Advances in technology mean small satellites have some of the capabilities of larger satellites for much lower costs and a shorter production timeline.
“Typically, there’s a long and somewhat expensive process for getting things ready to qualify for flight and then getting them up to space and there are long wait times,” Preisser said. “And it’s really expensive to get into space, typically.”
York is offering to prepare the cargo, launch and operate the satellite for roughly $3 million for an entire payload or lower rates for partial payloads, which could include cameras to collect data.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is create a way to streamline access to space and improve collaboration with new space industry,” said Preisser, an engineer and former Air Force officer who handled space and intelligence acquisitions for the Air Force and the Pentagon.
York’s goal is to establish a reliable, regular schedule for customers who want to prove their technology and components can operate in space.
Last May, York launched its first satellite, which is still in orbit. The company has a contract with the Air Force for two spacecraft.
“One of the things we’re trying to do with Hydra is basically help the government as well as the U.S. commercial industry stay strong in space, accelerate development and get more systems online quicker to basically keep pace with our rivals,” Preisser said.
York, which started in 2016, is expanding into a new production facility in Denver. The company will maintain its office in the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building on the Metro State University campus. It opened a Washington, D.C., office in October.
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