Third PocketQube Workshop Announced

Following the successful 1st and 2nd PocketQube Workshop at TU Delft, Alba Orbital is announcing that the 3rd PocketQube workshop will be held in Glasgow, Scotland — the event will run on the 5th and 6th September in Glasgow University Union and will cover all key areas for PocketQube developers.

PocketQubes are very small satellites, comprising of one or more cubic units of approximately 5 cm. and are the next frontier of smallsats. They are similar to the successful cubesat form factor, but are one order of magnitude smaller and belonging to the class of picosatellites (100 to 1000 g.). In the future, vast networks of these tiny satellites may provide currently unforeseen applications.

They are at the cutting edge of miniaturization, allowing more people to access space than ever before.

With 30 speakers and exhibitions, this event hosts an impressive lineup including keynote speaker Jim Cantrell, CEO of Vector.

The workshop format is relaxed, focusing on content and collaboration, with coffee breaks and lunch provided for all attendees.

The end of the two day workshop will be wrapped with a drinks reception on the 6th of September from 7:00 p.m. onward, providing an excellent opportunity to network and socialize with like minded PocketQube enthusiasts.

Additional details may be viewed at this direct infolink…

Kleos Space’s Scouting Mission 1 Smallsats Ready for Launch by Rocket Lab

Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), (Kleos or Company) has completed all acceptance reviews and the company’s satellites are mission ready awaiting transport to Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.

The satellites in the Kleos’ Scouting Mission1 are now secured in their protective Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) boxes — designed to prevent damage to the hardware in the event of a discharge of static electricity. Sensitive devices are protected at all times during manufacture/assembly, transport, handling, and storage.

Three of the Scouting Mission four satellites transport ready (satellite number four remained available for algorithm development at time of photo).

Photo is courtesy of Kleos Space.

Kleos’ CTO Miles Ashcroft said that the firm’s satellites have undergone and successfully passed the full test suite and they are formally, technically, accepted as mission ready. The company awaits the ‘green light’ from launch partners Rocket Lab to dispatch to Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand for flight preparation and integration onto the launch vehicle.”

The multi-satellite Scouting Mission system will form the foundation of a constellation that delivers a global picture of hidden maritime activity, enhancing the intelligence capability of government and commercial entities when AIS (Automatic Identification System) is defeated, imagery is unclear, or targets are out of patrol range. The first scouting mission is made up of 4x nanosatellites built by GomSpace in Denmark.

UbiquitiLink Raises Millions in Seed 2 Financing Round

UbiquitiLink has raised $5.2 million in “Seed 2 round” financing from Revolution’s Rise of the RestSeed Fund and Blazar Ventures. This financing infusion brings the company’s total funding to date to $12 million and will accelerate development of the company’s commercial service with a series of five space test flights of its technology.

According to the company, their  technology will provide universal global connectivity directly to standard cell phones using a network of LEO smallsats. The UbiquitiLink service will also provide a safety net for people working in remote locations — in the future anybody will be able to use 911 from anywhere. The service will additionally create a highly reliable means for alerting people to impending natural disasters and instant backup and recovery from disasters that destroy communication networks — an element desired by relief agencies and first responders around the world.

Earlier this year, UbiquitiLink successfully launched and tested the world’s first “cell tower in space,” demonstrating a link margin that was within 1 dB of theoretical predictions. Later this year, the world’s second “cell tower in space” will be launched to orbit to test both LTE (4G) and GSM (2G) connectivity. Space testing will start in August, which will be followed by the launch of operational satellites and initial commercial services in 2020.

Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution and Co-founder of AOL, stated that UbiquitiLink’s mission of providing everyone, everywhere with mobile connectivity is well aligned with the focus of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed fund. Revolution is excited to invest in technology that is helping to provide global connectivity and is designed to have a significant economic and social impact in rural and remote communities.

Charles Miller, co-founder and CEO of UbiquitiLink and a former senior NASA official, added that the company’s ability to connect satellites directly to mobile phones anywhere on Earth solves a fundamental economic problem that limits coverage in remote areas. It is economically unaffordable to build cell towers on the ground in communities with low population densities. UbiquitiLink is building this solution for the 88 million Americans who live in rural areas and lose coverage at the edge of town as well as also building this solution for the 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t have a mobile phone, many because they are not connected where they live and work.

Mark Foster, Founding Partner at Blazar Ventures and formerly the founder of telecom services provider Neustar as well as the inventor of telephone number portability, added that Blazar is a founding investor in UbiquitiLink and is delighted to continue to support Charles and his unique team and technology. UbiquitiLink is poised to unlock the next growth spurt in the now-flat $1 trillion global mobile industry by providing cost-effective connectivity everywhere on the planet. The company is pleased to have the Revolution team join us.



Lacuna Space and NanoAvionics Blend Their Expertise for IoT Satellite Constellation

NanoAvionics UK Ltd. and UK satellite communications provider Lacuna Space, both based at Harwell Campus Space Cluster, have signed a second contract to integrate the Lacuna Space LoRa-based Space Gateway into NanoAvionics’ M6P smallsat bus, which will be launched in Q4 2019 via a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

The two companies successfully collaborated on the Lacuna Space technology demonstration mission launched in April 2019. This new agreement will add a M6P-based satellite to join Lacuna Space’s internet of things (IoT) satellite constellation aimed at optimizing the performance of the payloads and then demonstrating the system in tests with users in many locations around the world, to validate the performance of the pilot service.

This will be the fourth Lacuna Space’s satellite launched this year with Lacuna Space LoRa IoT Gateway.

Lacuna Space is deploying a constellation of 32 smallsats in LEO to form the Lacuna Network. The LoRa-based Space Gateway on each smallsat in the network uses the long-range LoRaWAN communications protocol to receive short data messages from IoT devices on the ground or at sea. As the satellites travel in 500-kilometer polar orbits, the Lacuna Network will provide ubiquitous coverage for devices in regions without reliable wireless coverage.

According to the company, NanoAvionics M6P is a first preconfigured 6U nanosatellite bus in the market, suitable for high diversity of commercial and scientific missions. Its standardized design and configuration allows shorter lead times and reduced costs. M6P incorporates a green propulsion system and enables missions once reserved for much larger satellites. M6P-based satellites can perform maneuvers necessary for constellation deployment, formation flights, drag compensation and orbit maintenance. When reaching end-of-life, the propulsion system will send the smallsat on a course to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to burn up.

NanoAvionics will integrate Lacuna Space’s Space Gateway into the M6P bus as well as provide additional testing and launch services. The Indian Space Research Organisation has scheduled the satellite for launch on the PSLV in Q4 2019.

NanoAvionics CEO Vytenis J. Buzas said the M6P nanosatellite bus is ideally suited for IoT communications. The company is excited to continue this relationship with Lacuna Space as it pioneers a new form of ubiquitous, low-cost IoT communications.

Lacuna Space CEO Rob Spurret added that satellites in the Lacuna Network will receive data directly from inexpensive battery-powered LoRa IoT devices, even in the most remote parts of the world. Following the successful progress of the company’s demonstration mission earlier this year, Lacuna Space is happy to be working with NanoAvionics in the further deployment of the firm’s constellation, thanks to support from ESA, UK Space Agency and our partner, Semtech Corporation.


SEAKR Engineering to Build RF Processors for Saturn Satellite Networks’ NationSat

SEAKR® Engineering, Inc. (SEAKR)is using nexgen technologies to build digital RF processors for Saturn Satellite Networks‘ (Saturn) small GEO satellite known as “NationSat.”

Saturn is a company founded by space industry veterans focused on building small geostationary satellites and is building its first NationSat satellite using a 2.5 kW bus design. Saturn’s new GEO satellites deliver the most affordable access to space communications for countries and national service operators where traditional satellites are too big and expensive.

In alignment with Saturn’s mission of low weight, affordable satellite builds, SEAKR’s next generation RF processor, a software-defined radio (SDR), enables a highly integrated RF payload while minimizing overall system mass and power. SEAKR’s SDR is compact in design, made of light-weight materials and affords size, weight and power (SWaP) best optimized for small satellites. The RF processor can be synchronized to scale higher system throughput, and enables NationSat satellites to carry the equivalent of 48 x 36 MHz digitally configurable transponders.

SEAKR’s processor also supports payload management functions by interfacing with Telemetry, Tracking & Control (TT&C) systems, power, and clock to payload RF units (Low noise amplifiers, receivers or converters). SEAKR is also working with Saturn on an evolved digital RF processor to support High-Throughput Systems (HTS) with capacities up to 85 Gbps. SEAKR has successfully passed Saturn’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and is on track to deliver its first processor in 2020.

SEAKR’s RF processor for Saturn leverages four generations of architectural capability supporting the full spectrum of payload processing performance requirements, with a high level of on-orbit reconfigurable processing capability. Pulling from its established heritage capabilities, strength in RF communications, along with the continuous product and architectural advancement, SEAKR continues to define leading edge, state-of-practice processing systems in partnership with Government, Civil and Commercial entities.

SEAKR’s previous study and prototype advancements have successfully contributed to our customer’s ability to solve complex challenges imperative in advancing capability to meet today’s most daunting mission objectives. Key technologies being deployed and leveraged include: ADC and DAC Technologies, FPGA-based Processing Technologies, and ASIC-Based Processing Technologies.

Made in Space Receives NASA Demo Contract for On-Orbit Manufacturing

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) a contract to demonstrate the company’s autonomous robotic manufacturing and assembly platform, Archinaut, on a flight mission — this contract award marks the second phase of the NASA-funded Archinaut technology development program which was initially awarded in 2016.

This flight demonstration contract award follows a successful ground-based testing campaign of Archinaut’s core additive manufacturing and robotic technologies, qualifying the Archinaut platform for spaceflight.

The objective of Archinaut’s flight demonstration mission, dubbed Archinaut One, is to construct two, ten meter solar arrays, on-orbit, to power an ESPA-class satellite. Once on orbit, Archinaut One will employ its extended structure additive manufacturing capabilities and advanced robotics to manufacture and assemble the satellite’s power system.

The Archinaut-created solar arrays will yield nearly 5x the power currently available to ESPA-class satellites.
In support of Archinaut’s flight demo mission, MIS will continue its partnership with Northrop Grumman while involving other companies and universities to successfully demonstrate this transformational technology. Northrop Grumman supported Archinaut development during phase I of the program.

The Archinaut One mission will demonstrate transformative, near-term benefits for the satellite industry. Robust smallsat power systems, manufactured on-orbit, would reduce launch mass and cost while increasing capabilities as small satellites could host power-intensive payloads previously reserved for larger platforms. These benefits could drastically lower the barrier of entry for new users and revolutionize satellite design.

Andrew Rush, MIS president and CEO, said aautonomous, robotic manufacturing and assembly will reshape the landscape of space exploration and space infrastructure and we are taking a monumental step towards that future. Through the firm’s partnership with NASA, the company will build a space-optimized asset on-orbit, for the first time, that will prove the efficacy of this technology, reduce the risk posture, and manifest new opportunities for in space manufacturing.

Michael Snyder, MIS Chief Engineer, added the Archinaut One mission is a critical proof point to validate the use of robotic manufacturing and assembly for space exploration and commercialization activities. These technologies allow the company to circumvent the design constraints imposed by the launch environment and create space optimized structures and assemblies, thereby demonstrating unprecedented capabilities.

PlanetIQ Closes Series B Financing

PlanetiQ has completed an $18.7 million Series B round of financing, with New Science Ventures and AV8 Ventures co-leading the investment round with participation from existing and new investors, Valo Ventures, Kodem Growth Partners, Access Venture Partners, Virginia Tech Innovation Fund, Hemisphere Ventures, Service Provider Capital, Earth Investments, Moonshots Capital, and a large Kansas City-based family office that wishes to remain anonymous.

The investment brings PlanetiQ’s total funding to $23.9 million. The additional funds will help the company aggressively accelerate the launch of its high-definition radio occultation (HDRO) satellite constellation aimed to revolutionize worldwide weather forecasting by offering highly accurate weather predictions earlier, faster, and less expensively than current technology.

Radio Occultation (RO) is a cutting-edge meteorological technique that determines the attributes of weather (temperature, pressure, water vapor, wind) at all altitudes above the surface of the earth, dramatically increasing the accuracy of all types of weather forecasting.

New Science Ventures partner, Vivek Mohindra, and AV8 Ventures managing director, George Ugras, will join PlanetiQ’s Board of Directors. New Science Ventures invests in early and late-stage technology and life-sciences companies that take novel scientific approaches to address significant unmet needs. AV8 Ventures invests in early-stage breakthrough technology companies.

The Series B financing builds on an exceptional year for PlanetiQ, which witnessed PlanetiQ’s HDRO Pyxis instrument go into production, triggering a major revenue award from NOAA. PlanetiQ plans to launch its first two spacecraft into orbit at the end of 2019 with the remainder of the planned 20 spacecraft constellation being launched in 2020 and 2021. 

Vivek Mohindra said that, given the PlanetiQ team’s experience with 13 experimental RO missions to space, the company is highly confident in the ability of HDRO to revolutionize weather and climate prediction with very significant commercial impact for several diverse industries ranging from transportation to agriculture to renewable energy.

PlanetiQ’s Founder and Chairman, Chris McCormick, added that traditional space-based weather prediction technologies are not only much more expensive than RO on a per-reading basis, but also do not give the vertical resolution or water vapor accuracies that RO does — RO garners information up to every 100 meters, while competing technologies give more of an ‘averaged’ view of what is happening every 2,000 to 3,000 meters across the atmosphere. The resultant inaccurate weather predictions place millions of lives and an immeasurable amount of resources at risk every year.

PlanetiQ CEO Steve Joanis added that the company’s transition from a science-based company to a commercial company was the biggest milestone in 2019. Being awarded a major contract by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a validation of the company’s business model and demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to HDRO specifically as well as to commercial weather applications in general. 

Akash Systems Makes Diamonds Using New Capital 

Akash Systems, Inc. has announced $14.5 million in Series A funding, including $10 million in new equity funds plus an additional $4.5 million converted from prior convertible notes.

Investors in this round include Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, ACME Capital, Sriram Krishnan, Correlation Ventures and others. Akash will deploy the new capital toward scaling its transmit/receive radio modules and power amplifier business, moving it closer to profitability.

Akash has designed its satellite transmit/receive radio modules to easily integrate with existing ground station and satellite infrastructure for satellite makers in all markets. The company’s radios, which are expected to be available for purchase in late 2019, promise impressive performance not yet seen on the market.

4-inch GaN-on-Diamond Wafers.

In GaN-on-Diamond, the hottest part of a transistor is brought to within tens of nanometers of synthetic diamond — the most thermally conductive material ever made by humans. The result is a dramatic reduction in the waste heat generated from the power amplifier, and therefore the entire satellite system; in the communications “base stations” of space, the RF power amplifier is typically responsible for the bulk of the power consumed and the heat generated. The cooler state of operation gives RF and satellite system designers a previously unattainable thermal envelope to dramatically improve a satellite’s communication bandwidth and energy efficiency while simultaneously shrinking the system’s size, weight and operating costs.

Akash is currently manufacturing GaN-on-Diamond-based power amplifiers and radio modules for customers who make satellites requiring high frequency and high power efficiency. Its radio products are on track to hit the market in Q4 2019.

Co-founder, CEO and GaN-on-Diamond Inventor Felix Ejeckam said the successful close of this funding round marks an important next step in fulfilling Akash’s mission statement. The company’s aim is to be the RF communications link for every satellite in space.

Delian Asparouhov of Founders Fund added that Akash Systems is playing a critical role in meeting the growing and vital need for improved satellite communications infrastructure — the company is proud to be part of Akash’s journey as a critical enabler and accelerant in global communications.

Alex Fayette of ACME Capital noted that it’s rare to see a young company with such transformative technology already approaching commercialization. Akash’s business lies squarely at the intersection of major trends like global connectivity, high-performance telecommunications and space-based infrastructure. Their foundational technology will underpin other solutions across these industries.

Angel investor Sriram Krishnan remarked that what Akash has been able to achieve in its first few years is remarkable, as it has already attracted major customers across the ecosystem. The company is quickly shaping trends in global telecommunications and is one of the most exciting companies seen in a while.


Blue Canyon Technologies smallsats to support two NASA Ames/MIT CLICK flight demo missions

Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been selected by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Small Spacecraft Technology program and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, in collaboration with the University of Florida and MIT, to provide multiple 3U spacecraft for the firm’s Lasercom Infrared Crosslink (CLICK) smallsat flight demonstration missions.

The cubesats will be used for separate demonstration missions: the first is a laser space-to-ground demonstration mission and the second will demonstrate laser crosslinks and ranging in low-Earth orbit.

The new communication capabilities demonstrated by CLICK will enable new classes of smallsat missions, such as swarms for remote sensing or global constellations for communications.

The 3U spacecraft uses BCT’s heritage XB1 avionics to provide a state-of-the-art cubesat platform that maximizes payload volume. The spacecraft includes ultra-high-performance pointing accuracy, a robust power system, command and data handling, RF communications, and dedicated payload interfaces. The spacecraft bus will be developed and tested at BCT’s Spacecraft Manufacturing Center in Colorado.

BCT is currently building more than 60 spacecraft for government, commercial and academic missions. The company has doubled in size over the past 12 months and plans to open its new 80,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility in 2020.

George Stafford, CEO and President of Blue Canyon Technologies, said the company has a unique advantage as a spacecraft bus provider as it is equipped to support high-rate body-pointed lasercom capabilities with our flight-proven precision stability and pointing.

Kerri Cahoy, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, added that demonstrating precision timing and ranging over a lasercom crosslink using BCT CubeSat platforms will enable new capabilities for coordinated and distributed sensing missions.

Forrester Reports: Amazon’s True Plethora of Satellites

At the Advanced Television infosite, journalist Chris Forrester reports that Amazon has confirmed the company wants to launch 3,236 satellites into space.

Amazon’s ‘Project Kuiper’ has already received plenty of speculation, but now the Jeff Bezos-backed business has formally asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve the scheme, and to permit frequencies to be used.

Amazon used a July 4 filing to the FCC to specify that it wanted to fly the mega-constellation at heights of between 590-630 kms. and said that the system would offer fixed broadband communications to rural and hard-to-reach areas. Kuiper would also offer “high-throughput mobile broadband connectivity services for aircraft, maritime vessels, and land vehicles,” stated the filing.

Chris Forrester.

According to the application, which is unlikely to be rejected, there are still 21 million Americans who lack fixed, residential broadband and 33 million who do not have access to a speedy cellular service.

Amazon has also sought similar recognition for Project Kuiper from the ITU.

As yet, there is no commitment as to who might build the satellites, although it is assumed by most that Bezos will use his Blue Origin fleet of rockets to launch the constellation into orbit.