In the burgeoning satellite communications market, providing connectivity to internet of things (IoT) devices is an important use case, and in the latest example of how in-orbit systems are powering the IoT, global launch services provider Spaceflight has announced that it will launch four 3U spacecraft for global nanosatellite IoT network Astrocast aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Astrocast operates a global nano satellite IoT network that is designed to enable companies to monitor, track and communicate with remote assets, relying on L-band spectrum through a strategic alliance with Thuraya. The company offers services in industries including agriculture and livestock, maritime, environment and utilities.
The nanosatellite IoT network’s low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation of satellites is said to offer users cost-effective, bidirectional communication and modules with long battery life that connect assets moving across its network. The small-sized modules and antenna allow systems integrators to place a module on any device, from fishing buoys to container trackers or moving animals. Astrocast said its technology has been designed to minimise the need for human intervention and repair, wherever possible, safeguarding the IoT business case.
A long-time Spaceflight customer, the satellite IoT network operator extended its multi-launch agreement with Spaceflight in March 2022 to accommodate its fast-growing IoT constellation. Spaceflight has previously successfully launched all 12 of Astrocast’s spacecraft into orbit, including demonstration models dating back to Spaceflight’s SSO-A mission in 2018 and PSLV-C45 in 2019. The companies most recently partnered and successfully launched an additional five nanosatellites on SpaceX Transporter-1 in January 2021.
The new launch is Spaceflight’s eighth launch on a PSLV and its fourth supporting Astrocast’s nanosatellite IoT network and constellation. The mission, scheduled for October 2022, will launch from Sriharikota, India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center, carrying the Astrocast spacecraft as a co-passenger to sun-synchronous orbit along with the Indian national primary satellite. Once this mission is complete, Spaceflight will have launched 16 spacecraft in the Astrocast constellation, which enables companies to track and monitor assets in some of the world’s remotest regions.
“This launch is helping us get closer to accomplishing our mission of building and operating the most advanced and sustainable satellite IoT network,” said Astrocast CFO Kjell Karlsen. “Our long-standing relationship with Spaceflight and their access to, and experience with, an extensive portfolio of vehicles has provided us with the flexibility and customisation needed to launch our satellites. Assured access to space is critical for us as we grow our network, and our partnership with Spaceflight enables us to efficiently build out our constellation.”
This year has seen Spaceflight announce successful inaugural launches of its Sherpa-AC and Sherpa-LTC vehicles. To date, the company has executed more than 50 launches, taking more than 450 customer payloads to orbit.
“PSLV has long been a reliable and valuable launch partner to Spaceflight and we are excited to work with NSIL again after the Covid-19 restrictions of the last few years,” said Spaceflight CEO Curt Blake. “By having experience working with many different launch providers around the world, we are able to identify missions that meet our customers’ exact needs – whether that’s driven by schedule, cost or destination. As Astrocast builds its network and constellation, we can offer them a range of launch options, flexibility and customisation to support their long-term plans.”