Kongsberg NanoAvionics strengthens government focus with new CEO

TAMPA, Fla. — Kongsberg NanoAvionics hopes to significantly expand its government business after appointing national security specialist Atle Wøllo to lead the Lithuanian small satellite builder.

The company appointed Wøllo as CEO June 10 to replace Žilvinas Kvedaravičius, who held the position on an interim basis following the departure of co-founder and former CEO Vytenis Buzas last year.

Wøllo joined after nearly three decades at Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, which produces spacecraft subsystems and other products mainly for military customers and bought a majority stake in NanoAvionics in 2022

He was most recently senior vice president for special programs at Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, part of Kongsberg, a Norwegian tech giant that recorded $3.7 billion in revenue for 2023.

“Right now, [NanoAvionics has] a split of around 80 to 20 ratio between commercial and government customers,” he told SpaceNews, adding that the company categorizes subcontractor work to government programs under the commercial umbrella.

However, prime government missions with potentially larger contracts are becoming an increasingly lucrative growth area for the company, he added, “so potentially not so far into the future, that could be equally important as commercial, I would say, and maybe even more important.”

He pointed to multiple government-related customer opportunities on the horizon in Norway, Europe, the United States, Asia and elsewhere.

“When prices are low, that opens a new market for a lot of governments,” he said, in addition to commercial companies where demand remains high.

Through its new parent company, NanoAvionics also has access to secure satellite integration and testing facilities for handling classified information and hardware to meet high-security needs.

Constellation era

NanoAvionics produces satellites ranging from about 10 to 220 kilograms, and Wøllo said the company continues to see a pull toward larger spacecraft as costs to build and launch them decline.

About 80% of new bids are at the larger end of the company’s product range, according to Wøllo.

“We are also working on multiple constellation feasibility studies, both for commercial customers and governmental programs,” he said. 

“The constellations we are bidding on range from a couple of dozen satellites to a couple of hundred, with delivery dates expected within a three-year time span from today.”

NanoAvionics worked on 66 small satellites in total during 2022 and shipped 16 of them to customers that year. 

In 2023, Wøllo said NanoAvionics worked on 73 satellites and delivered 21.

The company, which also offers mission integration services, currently employs around 300 people across offices in Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the United States — up from 250 last year.


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