Seattle company sends satellites into orbit

KING 5's Glenn Farley reports.

TUKWILA, WA --  A division of Seattle based Spaceflight Industries is building a vehicle expected to set a record, deploying 89 satellites into orbit in one trip.

No, Spaceflight doesn't build rockets, but instead contracts with companies like California based SpaceX for rides.

They think of themselves like UPS or a freight forwarding company. They will consolidate your satellite load with those built by other companies that cuts the cost of getting it into space.

Those satellites are attached to Spaceflight's vehicle called Sherpa, which is a large aluminum ring with a variety of surfaces that will be activated by radio that triggers springs, firing the satellites into orbit.

On this next trip most of those satellites are small, known as cube sats, they're about the size of a loaf of bread. Others are as large as a small refrigerator. 

The next trip is currently scheduled for late January from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and over the next several months satellite companies will arrive to have their satellites loaded onto Sherpa.

By late next year the company expects to be deploying Terra Bella SkySats. Terra Bella is a company owned by Google, which promises to  use data from space to solve problems on Earth.

Satellite spaces on that trip are already 90 percent sold out and Spaceflight says there will be more than 20 payloads from some 10 different countries. 

Copyright 2016 KING


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