Q: What is the Instarsat mission?
A: Instarsat is an emerging leader in the development, manufacture, and operations of small satellites for Earth orbit and beyond. Our goal is to become the leading provider of end-to-end fully integrated satellite platforms and mission support service worldwide. Instarsat was founded to reshape the satellite industry by offering a broader range of satellite platform product choices that encompass breakthrough improvements in cost, quality, reliability, performance, and schedule not available in the space marketplace today. Our long term goal is to advance the state of the art in satellite technology which may hold the keys to our future on Earth.
Q: Who founded Instarsat and why?
A: John J. Webb, Jr. formerly organized the company to address the emerging need for a broader range of satellite bus and subsystems product choices for mission planners that encompass breakthrough improvements in cost, quality, reliability, performance, and schedule not available in the 21st Century space marketplace.
Q: How do you sell your products and services?
A: We market all of our spacecraft hardware (spacecraft bus) and systems as an end-to-end service (hardware provider, systems integrator, and mission operations) offering consistent repeatability and delivery which lowers cost, over time, and allows us to increase or decrease production when necessary while maintaining profitable business operations.
Q: What is ExpressBusTM?
A: ExpressBusTM is a microsatellite class platform (ex. a ~100kg satellite (bus and payload volume)) bus whose primary purpose is to function as a robust platform that supports the operation of integrated payload instrumentation and other flight hardware.
Q: Why and how did you arrive at the bus size category?
A: Each product line (bus size category) is designed to meet a very broad set of mission scenarios. Because each mission is different and the customer requirements are unique to the mission, the initial starting point for selecting the right spacecraft bus is to determine customer payload requirements, including mass, volume, and power.
Q: What market does ExpressBusTM address?
A: ExpressBusTM will serve the academic and research markets.
Q: Who are your customers?
A: Our mix of target customers is 70% commercial and 30% government. Specifically, we are focusing on the project/program decsion makers.
Q: Who are the competitors for ExpressBusTM?
A: Domestically ExpressBusTM competes with similar products offered by Orbital Sciences, SNC/Microsat Systems, Surrey Satellite - US, and others. Internationally ExpressBusTM competes with similar products offered by EADS/Surrey Satellite (UK) and others.
Q: What do competitors products cost?
A: Our competitors do not publish pricing. Estimates range from as low as $20 million to upwards of $200 million USD. Generally, for civil space programs, completed spacecraft costs are about 40% of the total mission cost.
Q: What will ExpressBusTM cost?
A: ExpressBusTM is expected to cost (excluding insurance, fees, and launch services) approximately 1/3 less than that of comparable small satellite product offerings in the marketplace today. Pricing will ultimately depend upon mission design criteria and customer requirements.
Q: How does ITAR impact your business?
A: ITAR is expensive (compliance) for a small business and impedes new market growth.
Q: How are development costs kept down while still producing a reliable and high performance product that costs less?
A: Literally, it is the sum of the parts. Developing a brand new product that incorporates life-cycle best practices, the implementation of more efficiency in overhead, design, production, and technical resources. More importantly, Instarsat expects to reduce its reliance on suppliers by manufacturing and integrating in-house at least 80% of each of its products because the current space supply chain is too expensive and is very tied to
those very expensive legacy costs where there are few options to choose from. Doing more with less intentionally!
Q: Are there plans to develop any follow-on products?
A: Yes. Three other follow-on products: ScienceBusTM (minisatellite class spacecraft), CommercialBusTM (medium class spacecraft) and DefenseBusTM (heavy class spacecraft). These products will address specific customer demands for research, solar system exploration, remote sensing, communications, and GPS products for the commercial space sector and specialized products for the US defense and national security sectors.
Q: Where is ExpressBusTM development, fabrication, and integration work taking place? Who will be doing the development work?
A: A search is now in progress in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina area for office, lab, and fabrication space. Instarsat is developing all of its bus products and selected subsystems "in house" - which enables the engineering to be in close proximity to our production. Ultimately, this approach will enable us to rapidly provide low risk, cost effective satellites.
Q: How is the development of ExpressBusTM funded?
A: Private funding fuels the on-going business operations and product development efforts.
Q: Are there signed customers for ExpressBusTM?
A: None to date. Instarsat continues to identify and engage (signed commitments or expressions of interest) potential customers and to market our products aggressively in targeted space markets.
Q: How many employees are there?
A: Two. Instarsat is currently seeking to fill positions in product development and business operations. Summer internships are also available.
Q: How do you define a small satellite?
A: Instarsat classifies "small satellites" as having a wet mass of ~1000kg or less. For product clarity and simplicity, we use wet mass (includes bus, payloads and instrumentation, and fuel) as the classification criteria. This gives our customers a clear measure of total mass, cost, and operations of the completed spacecraft (weight) at launch and on-orbit.
Q: How long does it take to build ExpressBusTM and when do you expect to launch your first satellite?
A: Once a customer places an order, we will go from mission design to delivery on orbit in approximately 6-10 months (mission specific). Our first demonstration spacecraft mission is tentatively planned for a Q1 2016 launch.
Q: How will launch service providers best meet the requirements for Instarsat customer missions?
A: We are seeking launch service providers with a solid record of service availability, reliability, and price sensitivity, which meets our customers mission requirements.
Q: What is the DemoStarTM program?
A: The DemoStarTM program is sponsored and managed by Instarsat as a part of the company's self-funded product development program. The objective of this unique program is to space qualify all of the product specific bus subsystems.
Q: What is unique or different about ExpressBusTM and why build another satellite?
A: Our business is about solving problems for customers in the space marketplace. Customers looking to traditional vendors for satellite buses face spending entire project budgets (if not more) on limited heritage hardware. The solution to this problem is to offer customers more cost-effective products by developing our product lines in-house. This approach, a philosophy applied to all of our family of products, infuses cost and labor efficiencies not found in the spacecraft platforms product arena. Our customers ultimately benefit from reduced program costs while yielding significantly higher returns on their investments in science and technology by utilizing more realiable and higher performance Instarsat space platforms.
Q: Why does it take so long to develop new satellite technologies?
A: The space business is hard. The satellite manufacturing business is even harder. Over the last few years Instarsat has spent considerable energy, time, and personal capital on learning, establishing, and maintaining the business in order to deliver the best new spacecraft platforms. However, in essence, it doesn't matter how long it takes to reach a goal - it matters more that you have what it takes to accomplish difficult goals and see it through to fruition!
Q:How do I stay informed about Instarsat?
A: The best way to stay informed about Instarsat progress and news is to sign up for our email newsletter by entering your email address in the field at the bottom center of our website homepage: www.Instarsat.com. For additional information, visit our website or send your questions to: info@Instarsat.com.