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Redwire is Developing a Very Low Earth Orbit Spacecraft Phantom

By Rachel Jewett | May 13, 2024

Rendering of Redwire’s Phantom VLEO platform. Photo: Redwire

Redwire Space is developing a Very Low-Earth Orbit (VLEO) spacecraft platform called Phantom, the company announced Monday. Phantom is being developed at Redwire’s facility in Belgium and is designed to carry out a wide array of intelligence, Earth science, and communications missions.

Redwire said it is working with Thales Alenia Space to advance Phantom’s design for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) VLEO mission Skimsat. ESA awarded Thales a study contract for Skimsat in 2022 to develop a VLEO multi-mission satellite designed to fly lower than 300 kilometers. The Thales study is funded under ESA’s Discovery Preparation and Technology Development (DPTD) activities. 

Phantom is designed to weigh less than 300 kg and to use an aerodynamic design that reduces propellant requirements, and could allow the satellite to stay in VLEO for up to five years. 

Redwire recently announced it is also developing a VLEO platform in the United States, called SabreSat. The company said that VLEO is an area of increased interest because VLEO bridges the gap between air and space. VLEO is an airborne anti-access areas but significantly closer to the ground than traditional satellites. 

“As a worldwide leader in developing and providing VLEO capabilities, Redwire is thrilled to continue its trailblazing work in VLEO with the new European-built Phantom platform,” said Pete Cannito, Redwire chairman and CEO. “We believe that VLEO will be a critical domain for the future of defense and intelligence operations, and we are proud to be leading the way in bringing this untapped orbit from concept to reality.”