Lockheed Martin has completed an important phase in the development of its first LM 400, a flexible, mid-sized satellite designed to be modified to fit the specialized needs of military, civil or commercial users.
In a step toward the satellite bus’ launch, the digital factory production of the LM 400 has concluded, which moves the initiative toward a planned series of self-funded on-orbit LM 400 technology demonstration missions, the company announced from Denver, Colorado on Tuesday.
Matt Mahlman, director of strategy and capture at Lockheed Martin Space’s Satellite Bus Center of Excellence, enumerated the benefits of the satellite’s completely digital production process, which he said allows the enterprise to produce LM 400s more quickly and cost-effectively for its customers.
To answer the call for more proliferated systems, high-rate production and affordable offerings, Lockheed Martin invested in common satellite designs.
The spacecraft’s agile structure allows a single platform to support a variety of missions, such as remote sensing, communications, imaging, radar and persistent surveillance. Beginning at the size of a home refrigerator, the LM 400 can be scaled to support higher power and larger payloads and prepared to carry multiple satellites in one launch.
Lockheed Martin’s SmartSat, a software-designed satellite architecture, will be included in each LM 400. The technology can conduct onboard “Edge” data processing, which reduces the time it takes to provide actionable data to mission operators and decision-makers on the ground for increased mission adaptability.
Unlike other buses in the same class, the LM400 is able to function in low, medium or geosynchronous earth orbits. It is compatible with a range of launch vehicles in a single, ride-share or multi-launch arrangement.
The satellite is compliant with Modular Open Systems Architecture requirements for interoperability with other platforms across all military branches, which supports the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control strategy.
In the first LM 400 launch, which is planned for this year, the satellite will host a Lockheed Martin-built narrowband communications Electronically Steered Array payload. The next LM 400 satellite, which is set to launch in 2024, will test synthetic aperture radar-capable ESA on orbit using the LM 400 platform.
“Our end goal is to accelerate the technical maturity of our satellites and advanced payloads, as well as showcase how new capabilities can be delivered quickly to customers,” said Mahlman.