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L3Harris, Planet Execs Talk Progress, Challenges in Smallsat Dev’t

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Two executives from Planet and L3Harris Technologies have cited electronic components and thermal management systems as key factors to the improvement of small-satellite technologies in the market, SpaceNews reported Thursday.

Chester Gilmore, vice president of spacecraft development and manufacturing at Planet, told the publication during a webinar that the company was able to increase the onboard memory of is Dove cube satellites to 2 terabytes from 16 gigabytes in 2012.

He added that updates to the Earth-imaging cubesats resulted from industry changes as well as parts miniaturization. However, he said that thermal management “breeds this whole other challenge“ to smallsat development.

Tim Lynch, executive director for the space and airborne systems multidomain architecture group at L3Harris, noted that high data rates and other power-intensive satellite functions tend to pose risks to effective heat management.

“We've built electronics packaging in very small volumes and getting the heat out is tough,“ he noted. “Thermal management is a big deal.“

Gilmore and Lynch's comments come after Carbice, and Atlanta-based startup, announced plans to launch satellites with thermal management systems built on nanotech carbon fiber elements.

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