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


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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