SAN FRANCISCO – Benchmark Space Systems has nearly tripled its staff and established manufacturing facilities to produce up to 1,000 engines in the United States and United Kingdom over five years.
Benchmark has recorded over 250 engine orders. Most engines are built and tested at the company’s headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. However, the company also has manufacturing and testing facilities in California and the UK.
The baseline headcount has grown from 30 to 83 over the past 12 months. Key new hires include Wesley Grove, chief operating officer, Matt Bradley, vice president of finance, and Kent Frankovich, vice president of electric propulsion.
While increasing its manufacturing capacity, Benchmark expanded its guidance, navigation and control software engineering organization. This organization focuses on thrusters, positioning subsystems, and SmartAIM guidance, navigation, and control software for satellites equipped with Benchmark’s Halcyon high-test peroxide thrusters and Xantus metallic plasma thrusters.
Benchmark ready to start manufacturing a propulsion system in the UK Benchmark announced plans in May to establish a manufacturing and test facility at the Westcott Innovation Centre. Working with UK-based Satellite Applications Catapult, Benchmark was able to set up its assembly and cleanroom in the UK in less than six months.
In the UK, Benchmark will begin producing Halcyon Avant bipropellant systems for Space Forgea Wales-based company that focuses on producing high-value materials in orbit to bring to Earth.
Reference demonstrated for the first time its chemical propulsion on an undisclosed government satellite in 2021. Since then, the company has demonstrated its “breakthrough chemical, electric and hybrid propulsion systems,” Benchmark CEO Ryan McDevitt said in a statement.
As a result, Benchmark will fill “major engine orders” in the coming months, McDevitt said. “Benchmark is signing major contracts to enable mission-critical government and commercial space programs, and we have the people and infrastructure in place to meet the exciting demand,” he added.
Mark Arthur, Benchmark’s director of European operations, called Benchmark’s UK facility an “important piece” of the company’s global strategy.
“We are now very well positioned to meet the specific needs of the European space market with bespoke chemical, electric and hybrid propulsion solutions,” Arthur said in a statement. “We plan to conduct our first hot trials early next year.”