While providing launch services for first-time flyers is always exciting, we are extremely honored when customers launch with us time and time again. These long-term relationships are very valuable as we partner to solve the launch needs of growing constellations. There are several repeat customers onboard our upcoming SXRS-5 mission, including Astrocast, Spire, Kleos, Swarm and HawkEye 360, and we couldn’t be happier to help them expand their constellations on orbit.
Primary requirements for these customers are:
- access to frequent launches so they can launch when they’re ready
- flexibility to move quickly between launches and launch vehicles if delays occur
- trusted mission management expertise so they can focus on building their spacecraft and running their business
And that’s precisely what Spaceflight provides for them. Read on to learn how Astrocast, HawkEye 360 and Kleos are continuing to innovate and expand their constellations with a ride on SXRS-5 / Transporter-2:
Astrocast’s IoT Nanosatellites
Astrocast will be launching an additional 5 IoT nanosatellites to its constellation on SXRS-5. The Astrocast Sat IoT Service enables companies to track IoT assets in some of the world’s most remote regions. To accomplish their goals, Astrocast plans to have 100 nanosatellites on orbit. By having a robust constellation and ground station network, the company will be able to track items worldwide within 15 minutes – eventually improving to near real-time location tracking.
Their terminals are so small that they can be put on everything from migrating animals to environmental and fishing buoys. Astrocast’s cost-effective communication service is helping various segments of the global maritime, agriculture and environmental industries, which are struggling with the current lack of global IoT connectivity. Astrocast can track individual cows in remote areas, preventing the spread of bovine disease; another customer is tracking endangered animal species, while another customer will be monitoring water filtration and distribution infrastructure in remote locations.
Their first demonstration satellite launched on Spaceflight’s historic SSO-A mission in 2018 on a SpaceX Falcon 9; the second demonstration satellite launched in 2019 on one of Spaceflight’s PSLV missions; their first commercial mission was on SXRS-3, SpaceX’s Transporter-1 in January 2021.
Astrocast CFO Kjell Karlsen explains, “Flexibility with regard to launch options is an important issue for us. What Spaceflight offers is the right kind of flexibility. Our first commercial mission was originally scheduled to be on another launch vehicle, but would be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Spaceflight moved us to another vehicle and saved us many months for our deployment. Working with Spaceflight also allows us to focus on our business as we can trust that they will take care of our needs with the various launch vehicles. As such, we do not have to build a significant launch team within our organization, instead deploying our resources to other important areas for the company.”
HawkEye 360’s Cluster 3
The Cluster 3 launch further expands HawkEye 360’s next-generation satellite constellation, which detects and geolocates radio frequency signals. The Cluster 3 satellites are able to collect a greater quantity of data across a wider portion of the RF spectrum, creating valuable, actionable insights for maritime domain awareness, national security, environmental protection and more.
The newest satellites will significantly expand the current constellation’s collection capacity and reduce revisit rates. They will process data at a faster rate and are equipped with new software-defined radios (SDR) that can simultaneously collect a wide range of frequencies, allowing for faster, more accurate geolocations. Additionally, a new custom antenna aboard Cluster 3 will create options for on-orbit investigations that will offer a greater understanding of RF environments and allow for the prototyping of future features.
HawkEye 360 first worked with Spaceflight in 2018, successfully launching its first exploratory Pathfinder Cluster of spacecraft aboard Spaceflight’s record-breaking SSO-A mission aboard a Falcon 9. Next up was HawkEye Cluster 2, which featured even more powerful satellites that could geolocate multiple signals simultaneously. These satellites launched on Spaceflight’s SXRS-3 (SpaceX Transporter-1) mission via the Sherpa-FX orbital transfer vehicle in January 2021. Each new set of satellites improves revisit, capacity, and latency. As the constellation continues to grow, HawkEye 360 is planning to collect data about every half hour anywhere on Earth.
HawkEye 360 product marketing director Adam Bennett adds, “The rapid growth of HawkEye 360’s constellation is building capacity and allowing us to deliver timely, actionable RF insights to customers around the globe. Projects like this are possible thanks to the recent revolution in launch services, and we’re pleased to be continuing our partnership with Spaceflight to expand our commercial-leading RF constellation.”
Spaceflight has also signed a Multiple Launch Services Agreement with HawkEye 360, whereby it will provide capacity, engineering, and mission management services to launch Cluster 4, 5, and 6.
Kleos’ Polar Vigilance Mission
The four-satellite cluster forming Kleos’ Polar Vigilance Mission onboard SXRS-5/Transporter-2 will deliver radio frequency Earth observation data. The Polar Vigilance Mission will provide global data to increase Kleos’ overall coverage density in the equatorial region. These satellites will also cover areas north and south of the company’s Scouting Mission cluster which are in a 37 degree inclined orbit.
Kleos is planning a constellation of up to 20 clusters of four satellites flown in formation collecting radio transmissions over key areas of interest around the globe. After processing on the ground, geospatial data products are delivered to analytics and intelligence entities – efficiently uncovering insights into human activity on land and sea.
Kleos worked closely with Spaceflight to launch its first Scouting Mission of four satellites in November 2020 on ISRO’s PSLV-C49 mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Chennai, India.
Kleos Space CEO Andy Bowyer comments, “Spaceflight has proven themselves to be a valuable partner as we build out our constellation, getting our Scouting Mission into orbit with ISRO’s PSLV-C49 at the end of last year, now helping with the upcoming launch of our Polar Vigilance Mission and a further launch for our Polar Patrol Mission at the end of this year.”