Exclusive: Apex Completes Ultra-Fast Satellite Qualification

Image: Apex

LA-based satellite manufacturer Apex Space Systems has assembled, integrated, and tested its first satellite bus less than a year after beginning the design process.

The first build of the company’s Aries platform, a 200-kg ESPA-class vehicle, is ready to ship for launch on Transporter-10 in a few months. According to Apex, it’s the fastest an ESPA-class vehicle has ever progressed from the design phase to completion. Design work began in February 2023, and testing wrapped in the first few days of 2024.

It’s a key validation of the build-fast ethos that defines the company’s approach to satellite design.

Need for speed: “Time is everything” when it comes to building satellite buses, Apex CEO Ian Cinnamon told Payload. To lower the lead times for delivering satellite platforms to customers, Apex gets a head start, ordering parts and planning assembly even before it’s secured contracts. It’s a balancing act between supply and demand.

  • Apex hopes this approach will enable them to offer off-the-shelf satellite platforms that suit its customers’ needs.
  • Out of five more Aries platforms the company is planning to build this year, at least one is currently unsold, per Cinnamon.

First up: The completed Aries bus flying on Transporter-10 will carry tech for a handful of customers, including a compute board for space tech firm Ubotica and three payloads for major defense primes. It’ll be the first flight for Aries.

What’s next? Apex recently announced that it’s opening Factory One this year. Construction is underway, and the company is hoping to make the move in the latter half of 2024. After that, it’s all about ramping up production—Apex is targeting delivery of 20 platforms in 2025 and 50 the year after.

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