Press releases

Start of the production of the Skylark constellation

Press releases

Start of the production of the Skylark constellation

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    Thales Alenia Space, LeoStella and NorthStar Earth and Space launch the development and production of the early satellites for the first constellation dedicated to monitor and track space debris

    Cannes, Tukwila, October 27th, 2020 – Thales Alenia Space, the Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), signed the first phase of a contract with NorthStar Earth and Space Inc., the Canadian space-based information services company, to start the development and production of the first three smallsat satellites that are part of the world’s first and most advanced commercial space-based environmental and near-space monitoring system.


    In November 2018, the Space Alliance, formed by Telespazio (Leonardo 67 % and Thales 33 %) and Thales Alenia Space announced to have taken a stake in NorthStar Earth and Space. Today, the industrial journey begins for the Skylark constellation, with Thales Alenia Space being responsible for the space system activities by providing the payloads alongside with LeoStella (a joint venture between BlackSky and Thales Alenia Space) providing the satellite platform and the assembly, integration and test facilities based in Tukwila for final assembly and delivery.

    “Through the Space Alliance, Thales Alenia Space is proud to play a key role in the NorthStar’s success. NorthStar’s Skylark space-based system will generate unique and outstanding data to build value added services for Space Situational Awareness. Skylark signifies a first step in providing much needed timely and precise information to the satellite operators”, declared Herve Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space.

    The ability to view, understand and map the physical location of natural and man-made objects in orbit around the Earth (currently there are more than 600 thousand objects in low Earth orbit with billions of dollars of space assets at risk from collisions) is now becoming a real concern for all private or governmental satellite owners and operators. Tracking resident space objects from space with optical sensors will enhance and complement existing systems. By observing from multiple perspectives in space, Skylark satellites will significantly improve tracking of objects, the number of detected debris and the ability to predict potential collisions.

    "NorthStar welcomes the world class expertise of Thales Alenia Space and LeoStella to our mission of delivering safe spaceflight operations in the New Space Economy. Together we look forward to achieving a future of peaceful and sustainable space for all”, added – Stewart Bain, CEO and co-founder, NorthStar Earth & Space.

    The Skylark smallsats will be based on LeoStella’s LEO-100 Multi-Mission Bus and a compact optical instrument.

    “The NorthStar space situational awareness constellation brings unique capabilities of free-flying Non-Earth Imaging satellites to the commercial sector. LeoStella is proud to be part of the team and to bring our multi-mission satellite platforms to support this important mission.” concluded Mike Hettich CEO of LeoStella.

    About Thales Alenia Space
    Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.


    Sandrine Bielecki Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

    Tarik Lahlou Tel: +33 (0)6 87 95 89 56

    Marija Kovac Tel: +39 (0)6 415 126 85

    Cinzia Marcanio Tel: +39 06 41512685

    About LeoStella

    LeoStella is a state-of-the-art satellite design and manufacturing company transforming constellation construction by building smallsats cost-effectively and at scale. Based in Tukwila, Wash., LeoStella is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space and BlackSky. The company was founded to meet the growing demand for efficient satellite development and manufacturing arising from the increasing number of constellations. For more information, visit

    LeoStella Press Contact:

    Coleen Moffitt

    Tel: 206-282-4923 ext. 113