Benchmark Space Systems, a Burlington-based company focused on satellite propulsion technology, has experienced significant growth since its founding in 2017. Led by founder and CEO Ryan McDevitt, the company has expanded to employ 80 people in Vermont, California, and the United Kingdom. Benchmark has also secured funding support from the University of Vermont and local investors.
The company recently raised an additional $33 million in funding and won a $3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to test safer and more affordable satellite thrusters. Benchmark specializes in developing propulsion systems for small satellites once they are in orbit. Their customers are primarily satellite manufacturers who rely on Benchmark’s propulsion systems to ensure the safe and efficient movement of their satellites in crowded orbital spaces.
The main challenge for Benchmark has been to create propulsion systems that are small and affordable enough to be used in microwave-sized satellites. McDevitt emphasized the need for cost-effective solutions that match the lower budgets of satellite manufacturers working with smaller satellites.
Benchmark aims to produce 1,000 thrusters annually from its newly established 40,000-square-foot testing and manufacturing facility. The company has experienced significant revenue growth, with an increase of 200% to 300% each year for the past three years. McDevitt hopes that Benchmark will become profitable by 2025.
The University of Vermont played a crucial role in helping McDevitt launch Benchmark. He collaborated with mechanical engineering professor Darren Hitt on a NASA-funded program to develop propulsion systems for small satellites.