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Boeing reveals prototype small satellites

Boeing has announced development of a series of small prototype satellites capable of rideshare on United Launch Alliance's (ULA) launch vehicles.

The satellites, dubbed Phantom Phoenix, range from 4kg (8.8lb) to 1,000kg in three distinct classes. The largest, of 500-1,000kg, are designed for dual-launch, allowing two satellites to launch on a single vehicle.

The next tier, at 180kg, is designed to launch as a secondary payload aboard ULA's vehicles, using the evolved expendable launch vehicle secondary payload adaptor (ESPA) ring. Up to six 180kg satellites could launch as secondary payloads using an ESPA ring, using the capability that remains on a launch vehicle after the primary payload has been set.

The smallest group are nanosatellites of 4-10kg, a size often used for one-off science experiments or limited-use payloads.

"The satellites are prototypes, so there are none in production yet," says Boeing. "We are talking to a variety of customers (military and civilian agencies) and once there is a customer we will go into production."

The Phantom Phoenix satellites were developed by Boeing's advanced technology division, Phantom Works.