Amid 2020 Satellite Launch Targets, Capella Space Selects Phase Four for Maxwell On-Orbit Propulsion System

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February 12, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: February 12 on

Early access purchase agreement demonstrates industry demand for Phase Four”s new small satellite engine 

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Today Phase Four, a best in class provider of electric radio frequency (RF) thrusters for in-space propulsion, announced that Capella Space, an aerospace and information services company providing Earth observation data on demand, has purchased six Maxwell engines for initial phase of constellation deployment, with an option to purchase additional Maxwell systems. Capella Space is well-respected for its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology designed to detect sub-meter changes on the Earth”s surface. The leader in radar imaging, tapped Maxwell as its preferred propulsion solution for Capella”s phased deployment of a constellation of 36 micro-satellites.

Introduced in November 2018, Phase Four”s Maxwell is the first turnkey RF thruster-based propulsion solution targeted at small satellite constellations and is gaining swift traction with commercial and government satellite manufacturers. Maxwell brings new small satellite constellations the performance and efficiency of legacy electric propulsion systems, while obviating the need for expensive components that have hampered high performance propulsion solutions for small satellites.

“Selecting Phase Four”s Maxwell as an engine for our satellites enables higher performance at lower cost,” said Christian Lenz, VP of Engineering. “In terms of ROI, delta-V performance, and plug-and-play integration, Maxwell checks the boxes for employing the best performing systems and space technology in our mission to make vital information about our planet more accessible and reliable. We are pleased to cement this partnership with Phase Four and look forward to putting their capabilities on orbit with our launches later this year.”

Capella”s small satellites are designed and deployed in less time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional high-resolution SAR systems, representing a seismic shift in the development of remote-sensing infrastructure. Once on-orbit, the high frequency revisit rate of the Capella constellation will improve reliability and accessibility to timely planetary insights anywhere on the globe. With support from Maxwell”s propulsion system, Capella”s small satellites will detect change and draw insights from high value areas of interest for customers across an array of industries, including commodity trading, shipping and maritime security, agriculture and food security, and defense and global infrastructure integrity monitoring. Phase Four will begin shipping Maxwell in Q3 2019.

“As the burgeoning demand for small satellite constellations increases on a commercial scale, propulsion technology that is performant, readily manufactured at scale and affordable is required. Demand for such high performing affordable propulsion solutions will only continue to increase,” said Beau Jarvis, Phase Four CEO. “With efficiency and scalability at the forefront, Phase Four”s core thruster technology allows for future spacecraft to use less, further contributing to the sustainable in-space industry and delivering on the promise to provide a satellite propulsion engine that powers missions into LEO and beyond in an economical and efficient manner.”