Boeing has unveiled a new high-throughput small satellite production, integration and test facility designed for efficiency and rapid delivery timelines. Housed in what is reported to be the world’s largest satellite factory, Boeing’s 92,903 m2 El Segundo, California, USA, facility, the small satellite production line will be powered by Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems.
“Boeing and Millennium are bringing together Boeing’s production expertise, domain knowledge, and manufacturing capacity with Millennium’s agility and rapid prototyping,” stated Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing Space and Launch. “We’re scaling and growing to fulfil our customers’ vision for multi-orbit constellations with demand across markets and mission sets.”
The companies are applying advanced and Additive Manufacturing techniques, including the Additive Manufacturing of entire space-qualified satellite buses, to offer faster cycle times while improving performance.
“Our customers need satellites on-orbit faster than ever,” Chilton remarked. “Much like an airplane or auto production line, we’re employing lean production principles and advanced manufacturing techniques to accelerate delivery and pass on cost savings to our customers.”
Millennium’s team will staff the small satellite factory, bringing the subsidiary’s proven processes and infrastructure, in addition to environmental test capabilities tailored to small satellites. Boeing will also provide access to extensive environmental and speciality testing capabilities that have qualified some of the most iconic spacecraft, including the first vehicle to make a fully controlled soft landing on the moon and more than 300 satellites.
“Millennium’s culture is rooted in creating innovative ways to revolutionise space,” commented Jason Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Space Systems. “We’re bringing that culture into our facilities, rapidly building large constellations of high-performance small satellites, taking advantage of a footprint that’s larger than two professional hockey rinks.”
Designed to build small satellites for different security levels on the same assembly line, the digitally-defined small satellite factory incorporates model-based systems engineering, digital design engineering, and design for manufacturability.
“Understanding security protocols and how to build secure systems is critical to national security space, and this is an area where Millennium and Boeing excel,” added Kim. “We’re excited to leverage this impressive capability to support our customers’ critical missions.”
Initial operating capability took place in September 2021, and the small sat factory’s full operational capability is expected in late 2022.
Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company, delivers high-performing prototype and constellation solutions across advanced national security and environmental observation missions. Founded in 2001, the company’s small satellite missions support government, civil and commercial space customers’ needs across orbits.