Scaling up to go fast(er)



Feature Article

In March 2022, Millennium Space Systems unveiled their Small Sat Factory to meet the demand for the rapid delivery of high-performance proliferated constellations.  

“Rapid delivery is a cultural tenet for us,” said Gabrielle Carlisle, vice president, Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Logistics. “We’re moving fast to build our space vehicle production line. At the same time, we’re manufacturing a range of products that can meet a variety of customer mission needs, such as multi-orbit constellations or Tactically Responsive Space missions like Victus Nox.”

Millennium Space System’s in-house common core products, like flight computers, star trackers and electrical power systems, are built at the Small Sat Factory.  

“We deliberately rated our components to support multiple orbits and missions,” said Carlisle. “By ensuring that a small number of common products can satisfy customer requirements across multiple programs and portfolios, we reduce costs and lead times, and we can execute at a higher volume.”

This approach to vertical integration is key to scalability.  

“Instead of building a new flight computer for every single program, we can customize the same, in-stock computer for different programs,” said Carlisle. “This tactic saves time and enables us to build small sats at a higher volume.”

Millennium Space Systems’ common core product pipeline also helps reduce risks like supply chain disruptions.

“Even small changes to a complex supply chain can introduce unintended consequences,” said Cullen McAlpine, production engineering director. “Our goal is to eliminate single points of failure, like relying on a single supplier. We want to make sure we don’t paint ourselves into a corner if a vendor can’t satisfy demand. Instead, vertical integration gives us the option to dual source and produce parts internally, which provides the flexibility to meet our customers’ need to go fast.”

Tech refresh – the practice of continuously upgrading products – also plays an important role in improving the quality, performance and reliability of many products.  

“The more products we test, space-qualify, launch and operate on orbit, the more we – and our customers – understand the performance and reliability of our products and how they can support different types of missions,” said McAlpine. “And the better we understand our products, the more we can tech refresh and provide improved capabilities. Plus, tech refreshes reduce recurring costs for our customers.”

The PIC, or Peripheral Interface Controller, is one such tech refresh case. The first PIC was bulky and had limited functionality. PIC 2.0, by contrast, is smaller and modular, allowing multiple systems to connect to it. In-house batteries also evolved from a monolithic design to a flexible one that can accommodate different power and size needs.

McAlpine notes that the path toward building at scale includes many systems and process improvements. For example, the company is embracing LEAN principles, such as eliminating overprocessing to reduce waste.  

“We want to make sure that we're critically reevaluating requirements and not doing things we shouldn't be doing,” said McAlpine. “At the end of the day, we want to produce high-quality products that meet customer requirements, while optimizing processes to reduce lead time and costs.”

Millennium Space Systems is also implementing digital engineering to effectively map out schedules, understand manufacturing capacity and hire appropriately to support production.  

“As capacity increases, so too does hiring,” said Carlisle. “We are regularly onboarding engineers, technicians, inspectors and supply chain specialists – and we’re just getting started.”

Check out opportunities at Millennium Space Systems and apply today.

About Millennium Space Systems
Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company, is a small satellite prime, delivering high-performance constellation solutions for National Security Space. Founded in 2001, the company's active production lines and 80% vertical integration enable the rapid delivery of small satellites across missions and orbits – LEO, MEO and GEO. For more information, visit

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Dana Carroll, Vice President of Marketing