Luxembourg-based Kleos Space recently announced its Scouting Mission satellites, a cluster of four demonstration satellites that form the cornerstone of the planned 20-system constellation, are successfully on orbit. These satellites, built by GomSpace in Denmark, will geolocate VHF transmissions from marine vessels, enabling the company to provide global activity-based intelligence as a service.
The launch which was managed and integrated by Spaceflight Inc. took place November 7, 2020 on ISRO’s PSLV-C49 mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Chennai, India. The satellites are now collecting data over crucial areas of interest such as the Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, East/West Africa, Southern Sea of Japan, and the northern Australian coast.
The launch marks an important milestone for Kleos to start delivering commercial and independent data to government agencies, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) community and organizations interested in locating threats, assets or those in need of search and rescue.
François Bausch, Luxembourg Minister of Defence, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mobility and Public Works commented, “While using innovative technologies developed in Luxembourg, Kleos can contribute to make this world a bit more safe and secure. The launch of these first satellites is perfectly in line with this objective and we look forward to Kleos contributing to our efforts to build valuable data sets.”
The Road to Launch
Kleos experienced multiple launch delays with their initial launch provider, inhibiting their ability to get their assets on orbit in mid-2019 as planned. In fact, in the summer of 2019, Kleos was informed the launcher was making changes to its manifest and launch schedule which would prevent the satellites from reaching orbit that year.
Andrew Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space, knew they had to act fast and find an alternative. “Being proactive was important for us. The risk was high because timing was limited, but we had to take action and make a decision.”
That’s when Kleos Space turned to Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch service provider, to help. Within three days of being contacted, Spaceflight rebooked Kleos Space’s scouting mission on a new launch that met their timing, orbit and budget needs — PSLV-C49.
As a rideshare service provider, Spaceflight works with a diverse and large portfolio of launch vehicles. This presents a crucial advantage to Spaceflight’s launch schedule and manifests: flexibility. Spaceflight has capacity on launches from a range of vehicles, which assists in mitigating negative impacts from delays because they can work with customers to reschedule a launch if it’s necessary to the success of the mission.
“Delays are inevitable because space is complex, but by offering launches on a diverse portfolio of vehicles, Spaceflight offers increased flexibility and reliability to help mitigate this pain point,” said Curt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight. “By standardizing engineering processes and integration hardware across vehicles as well as having capacity on a sustainable number of missions and expertise on a variety of launch vehicles, we can re-manifest satellites in a relatively short period of time.”
In addition to identifying and booking the new launch, Spaceflight led the integration process for Kleos’ Scouting Mission.
“I would like to thank the entire team at Spaceflight for getting our Scouting satellites launched,” added Bowyer. “Not only do they have extensive experience with the PSLV and the launch environment in India, which played an important role in the success of this mission, they really went above and beyond to ensure we launched — all in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Those kinds of partnerships are rare and very valued.”