Cubesats Centauri 1 and 2 will be part of a network connecting the world’s IoT sensors and devices
Fleet’s nanosatellite technology is breaking new ground and opening up markets for new industry. Their first cubesats will be launched aboard Spaceflight’s SSO-A mission this fall. The planned constellation of nanosatellites aims to power the next industrial revolution, giving a cost-effective way for businesses to access data and connectivity. These satellites will link up with Fleet’s gateway product, the Portal, which was released earlier this year.
“We envision two major outcomes of our mission,” says Lawrence Trevor, SATCOM Engineer for Fleet Space Industries. “The first will be to determine efficiencies in the operation of our cubesats, so that we can start to build as much automation into the system as possible. This is important because as we grow our constellation, it becomes one cohesive system with minimal human intervention. The second is to fully understand the challenges of supporting IoT communications from space. We understand that simply putting more satellites into space is not the silver bullet for creating ubiquitous IoT connectivity;we’re looking to build a holistic picture of the entire system performance so that we can make mistakes, learn from them, redesign and redeliver.”
Finding a Launch Provider
Fleet knew what they were looking for in a launch service provider: the shortest time to orbit. Fleet needs a consistent and transparent launch schedule, as they are launching not just one satellite but a constellation. They strive to be agile, which means closing out a design cycle in the shortest amount of time feasible. “If we can’t reliably supply our constellation with additional resources, then our customers cannot access a reliable IoT network,” says Trevor.
One major benefit of working with Spaceflight is their ability to move customers like Fleet between launches, across a variety of launch vehicles, so their schedule is not derailed by delays or other factors. By working with multiple launch vehicles, Spaceflight can mitigate risks associated with having only one option for launch.
Managing the Mission
Fleet knows that their Spaceflight Mission Manager wanted the mission to succeed as much as they did. “We weren’t treated like our payloads didn’t matter, and that they were just another cash injection into the company, ready to be discarded at the first sign of trouble,” said Trevor. “Our mission manager really went above and beyond plenty of times to make sure we would have a successful launch and mission.” That meant she was available at crisis points, late at night and over the weekends – whenever Fleet need her.
Fleet is looking forward to the coming months, when Centauri 1 and 2 are on orbit and they are building their satellite operations abilities. Then they will be able to connect their customers and use the outcomes of the mission to inform how to make Fleet’s offerings to their customers.
What has Fleet learned in the process of preparing for SSO-A? “Just that we’ve learned to always expect the unexpected, and that no challenge is too great to overcome,” says Trevor. Excellent advice for anyone headed to space.