Satellite Propulsion Startup Benchmark Indicates Growth in Military Market

Fremont, CA: Small satellite propulsion systems are being developed by a growing number of startups in the space industry. Commercial constellations drive demand, but propulsion suppliers find opportunities in the military market as the Pentagon shifts its focus to small satellites.
According to Chris Carella, executive vice president of Benchmark Space Systems, a Vermont-based startup, organizations such as the Air Force Research Laboratory and the US Space Force's SpaceWERX are increasingly interested in smallsat propulsion technologies as the military attempts to build more resilient constellations.
The company manufactures smallsat thrusters for commercial satellite operators and has recently announced plans to provide "mobility as a service." It is also pursuing military contracts.
Carella told SpaceNews on the sidelines of the Satellite 2021 conference that satellite thrusters will assist military spacecraft in avoiding threats in space such as anti-satellite weapons and orbital debris.
While many satellite operators prefer electric engines, chemical propulsion is better suited for military satellites that must manoeuvre quickly, according to him

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