MELBOURNE, Fla. — A tiny satellite with Space Coast origins is now circling the Earth -- all part of a Melbourne company's goal to go smaller in the vastness of space.
- Harris Satellite is roughly the size of a briefcase
- Company to invest $125M to spur research & development in new tech
- Harris' new investment will fund 1,200 new and current staff
It began when a nearly 150-foot-tall Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off the pad from Satish Dhawan Space Center on November 28.
On board, 31 small satellites — including Harris Satellite, a briefcase sized cube — sat on its maiden voyage to space.
"This is the first time we are doing the 'end to end' solution, from start to finish" said Murali Krishnan, VP and GM Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance of Harris Space and Intelligence Systems.
The tiny craft is being monitored from a ground control center at the company's Harris Technology Center in Palm Bay, where information is being sent to and from low Earth orbit.
Krishnan says compare it to standing in Jacksonville and controlling such a small object in Miami.
So far the 'test' mission is going well, a game changer that's paving the way for future small-sat launches that cut costs drastically due to their non-traditional size, plus sharing rocket rides to space with other such payloads.
"A large, exquisite satellite can typically cost around $100 million," Krishnan told Spectrum News. "And we can do the same thing essentially for a quarter or tenth of that cost."
Harris can't discuss this, or future small-sat missions in detail due to security reasons, but more of these missions are already in the works. It's part of Florida's largest aerospace, defense company's effort to invest $125 million in the coming year to spur research and development in new technologies.
Harris' new investment will fund 1,200 new and current staff, and the company is looking to fill 375 positions statewide.
Per the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, the local unemployment rate was nearly 12 percent when the shuttle program shutdown in 2011 — it now stands at 3 percent due to such initiatives.