LeoStella buys Astra’s electric drive systems for satellites

An electric propulsion system illuminates its bow thruster with xenon propellant. (Astra/Apollo Fusion photo)

Astra Space says it has signed a deal with Tukwila, Wash.-based LeoStella to supply multiple electrical propulsion systems for LeoStella’s small satellites, with deliveries set to begin later this year.

The financial terms of the contract have not been disclosed.

LeoStella is a joint venture between BlackSky and Thales Alenia Space that builds satellites for BlackSky, Loft Orbital and other customers at its manufacturing facility in Tukwila. California-based Astra Space’s main business line is rocket launching, but last year it acquired Apollo Fusion, which makes electric propulsion systems.

Electric propulsion systems, also known as ion propulsion systems, can give spacecraft a smooth yet stable appearance by shooting out ion beams. The Astra / Apollo Fusion systems can use xenon or krypton propellant.

For what it’s worth, Apollo Fusion’s electric propulsion system was previously chosen for use on a version of the Sherpa space tug made by Spaceflight Inc. from Seattle, one of Astra’s industrial partners.

LeoStella plans to use Astra’s electric propulsion systems on several satellites.

“As the demand for small satellites continues to grow, we are always looking for innovative options to provide our satellites with highly efficient, reliable propulsion,” said Tod Byquist, LeoStella’s director of programs and supply chain, in a press release today. “Astra’s spacecraft engine has a good flight history and the performance we need to get our satellites into space on time.”

Mike Cassidy, Astra’s vice president of project management, called LeoStella “a pioneering force in building critical space infrastructure through a variety of satellite designs.”

“Their vision of deploying reliable, cost-effective satellites aligns closely with Astra’s and demonstrates the innovative forces at work to expand and accelerate access to space,” Cassidy said.

This post LeoStella buys Astra’s electric drive systems for satellites

was original published at “https://www.geekwire.com/2022/activate-the-ion-drive-leostella-will-buy-astras-electric-propulsion-systems-for-small-satellites/”