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UPLINK: A Conversation With...
John. J. Webb, Jr., CEO + Founder, Instarsat LLC

John. J. Webb, Jr., the CEO and Founder of Instarsat LLC, was kind enough to contribute his time to answer our queries regarding small satellites. When asked about what his company’s involvement was, he answered...

Instarsat is a privately held, innovative space technology company that is developing a new generation of small and medium class satellites for commercial, civil,and military space markets. To meet the growing demand for a new generation of smaller space platforms, Instarsat is developing ExpressBus™, which is intended for use in academic and research missions. ExpressBus™ is a microsatellite class platform that offers customers greater mission planning flexibility, responsive operations, higher return on mission investments and a lower cost access to space.”

Regarding this market segment, John sees significant growth potential in small satellite missions for “university and commercial research payloads, in part because of the emerging launch services that are enabling affordable access to space.” And will higher educational centers more readily accept commercial firm involvement? “Many university programs I am aware of would most likely welcome private sponsorships, commercial partnerships, and other forms of technical assistance. However, I do not see those programs abandoning traditional forms of government funding.”
We asked John where he expects the small satellite segment moving over the next year or two. “Near term, within two to three years, I see a continuing shift in the commercial and military sectors to smaller space systems. In particular, smaller missions that can repeatedly deliver schedule and performance benefits. On the commercial side of the equation, smaller missions with microgravity research, Earth observation, space weather, and communications payloads will continue to see an increase in mission frequency. On the military side, smaller missions that meet the war fighter’s needs, such as, situational awareness, communications, and threat monitoring are all in the realm of possibility for future smaller missions.

“Based on my observations of the market, there are three reasons for potential customers and their end-users to consider the value in small satellites for their missions. These include improved quality — efficient production techniques that lower costs and produce repeatable results — a rigorous and continuous development and testing program that enables predictability, while substantially mitigating technology risk — and performance, thanks to a proven hardware heritage that increases the prospect of a longer operational life and ensures higher returns on mission investment.”

Regarding the company’s ongoing development projects, Instarsat focuses on supporting its markets by “executing a rigorous and continuous product development and testing program. Called DemoStar™, this delivers on our core value proposition and substantially mitigates customer risk. Proven heritage hardware combined with our competitive advantages and high customer confidence will result in our spacecraft products and subsystems doing exceedingly well in all of our targeted markets.”

Other product families under development by Instarsat include ScienceBus™ (minisatellite class spacecraft), CommercialBus™ (small class spacecraft), and DefenseBus™ (large class spacecraft). These space platforms afford a broad range of product choices for mission planners and encompass breakthrough improvements in cost, quality, reliability, performance and scheduling.