In the future, the satellite communications startup Kepler will manufacture its small satellites in a new 5,000 square meter plant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada , The company is working with partners such as the Canadian Space Agency and the University of Toronto on the new facility, which includes manufacturing, design and development of their satellites.
Kepler is already operating two satellites in orbit and has demonstrated the capabilities of its technology by providing a high-speed Internet data connection to the North Pole for the first time at the end of last year. These spaceships were designed by Kepler, but manufactured through third-party contracts. With the new system, Kepler can "vertically integrate the development, production and testing of its future spacecraft".
This will help the start-up achieve its goal of producing, launching and operating a constellation of a total of 140 satellites that provide high bandwidth connectivity for use in a number of industries including agriculture, transportation, maritime and logistics will offer, just to name a few. This new in-house facility will support the mass production of the small satellites required to build the fleets, while offering cost advantages over outsourcing over time.
The small satellite industry is one of the areas of commercial space where demand has grown the most, especially since comparatively inexpensive launchers like the SpaceX Falcon 9 has expanded the pool of potential companies that build and operate satellites and constellations. If we do satellite manufacturing in-house, Kepler is one of the few small satellite companies that owns the entire stack. This should represent a major competitive advantage over the market in the future.
As for when the facility will launch satellites that Kepler actually plans to launch, the company is currently planning to launch its last demonstration satellite, which is already being built under its previous contract in spring this year. The first commercial satellites for this new facility are to be launched this summer. Another two starts are planned for the end of the year.