Geostationary Satellite Builder Maxar Sees Market In Small Spacecraft

Maxar 300 small satellite
Credit: Maxar

COLORADO SPRINGS—Maxar, which is known for building large geostationary satellites, is seeing interest in its Maxar 300, a smaller spacecraft drawn from a bus it is making for L3Harris’ Space Development Agency (SDA) offering.

The company’s move to rebrand its spacecraft line comes as the company is being prepared for sale. Maxar stockholders voted April 19 to be acquired by the private equity company Advent International. That transaction is expected to close by early May, pending regulatory approvals.

The Maxar 300 is the result of a big investment internally that will become the bus for L3Harris’ Tranche 1 tracking satellite for the SDA’s proliferated low-Earth-orbit constellation, Chris Johnson, senior vice president and general manager for space at Maxar, tells Aviation Week at the Space Symposium here.

“The 300 opened up a whole new market space for us,” Johnson explains. “We’re seeing both SDA and a number of other national security space opportunities that could leverage that platform and then a number of commercial opportunities. We roughly think about a five-year market opportunity across government and commercial, in the $10 billion-plus range” for the Maxar 300.

The platform has navigated a preliminary design review and faces a critical design review this year.

The market has changed from not being able to participate in that size market to being able to capture business, Johnson says. That includes the newly designated Maxar 500, a midsize platform that will leverage innovations from the long-delayed WorldView Legion satellite.

“The proof will be when Legion is up and operating,” Johnson notes. “We think that will be a catalyst for all kinds of other folks to talk to us.”

And Maxar is still is receiving two-three orders per year for its Maxar 1300 spacecraft, of which more than 90 are on orbit. Products from that kind of diverse portfolio can fill the factory with all three types of satellites. “You’ve got a growing and healthy kind of infrastructure,” Johnson says.

Jen DiMascio

Based in Washington, Jen manages Aviation Week’s worldwide defense, space and security coverage.