The small satellite industry ecosystem has expanded greatly throughout the last decade which makes it a bit tough to keep track of all the options out there for various capabilities. Here I attempt to catalog the various companies operating across bus manufacturing, launch, ground infrastructure, and ground software.
Here we'll briefly walk through a simple performance estimate for a blowdown propulsion system. This is useful for assessing the orbital maneuver capability of a proposed design and determining the end-of-life (EOL) pressure.
While at Skybox one of my responsibilities was overseeing the propellant loading campaigns for the SkySats, which involved traveling to three different launch facilities on three different continents. A bit over 4 years ago we wrapped up the first commercial LMP-103S loading campaign in Sriharikota, India in preparation for the SkySat-3 launch on PSLV in June 2016. Three months later we're in the jungle of Kourou, French Guiana and then a year after that in Lompoc, USA.
In Jan 2018, Planet launched a technology demonstration of a 1U indium FEEP thruster module designed and built by Enpulsion. The thruster was integrated into a modified Planet 3U "Dove" satellite and launched on a PSLV.
SkySat-3, launched in June 2016 on PSLV, was the first commercial spacecraft to load and fly ECAPS' ADN based green monopropellant known as LMP-103S. Previously the technology had flown on the Swedish Space Corporations PRISMA mission, which launched in June 2010.
Spacecraft lifetime in LEO is highly dependent on the atmospheric drag force and it's removal of energy from the satellite's orbit. Understanding the impact of drag on a design is important for early propulsion sizing estimates for spacecraft operating in the very low earth orbit (VLEO) range of 250-450 km.