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What’s Under Development at SFL? Formation-Flying RF Geolocation Microsatellite Clusters

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SFL is designing, assembling, and integrating Clusters 9 and 12 for HawkEye 360 at our facility in Toronto, while HawkEye 360 is integrating Clusters 8, 10, 11, and 13 at its own plant in Virginia under our Flex Production Program. All six clusters are being built on the 30-kg space-proven SFL DEFIANT bus.

HawkEye 360 is the first commercial company to use formation-flying microsatellites to detect and geolocate terrestrial radio frequency (RF) signals. This data is analyzed for a variety of applications including maritime situational awareness, emergency response, national security, and spectrum mapping. SFL was selected to build the HawkEye 360 clusters due to the importance of formation flying and advanced attitude control by multiple satellites to precisely geolocate RF signals from space.

SFL has developed compact, low-cost formation-flying technology at a maturity and price-point that no other small satellite developer can credibly offer at present.

HawkEye 360 has become the international leader in RF signal analysis and is rapidly expanding its on-orbit assets to meet growing demand. All 21 of the company’s satellites now in operation have been developed on SFL spacecraft buses. According to the HawkEye 360 website, its satellite constellation can collect data globally and over specific areas of interest up to 24 times per day.

The Virginia firm was an early adopter of our Flex Production Program which was created to accommodate evolving business models in aerospace, particularly related to NewSpace ventures. Under this program, we assemble spacecraft units in Toronto and ship them to the HawkEye 360 plant where the satellite and RF signal tracking payload are integrated with technical guidance from SFL.

Cluster 7, launched in 2023, was the first group of HawkEye 360 microsatellites integrated in Virginia where Clusters 8, 10, 11, and 13 are currently undergoing integration. SFL continues to handle the entire spacecraft development process in Toronto for HawkEye 360 when a design modification is being made, as is the case with Cluster 9 now.

HawkEye 360 Clusters 8 and 9 are expected to be launched in 2024.

[For more information about SFL’s Flex Production, please visit this page on our website.]