Astrocast orders GomSpace propulsion system for IoT satellites

Swiss-based Astrocast has placed an order for GomSpace‘s cold-gas propulsion technology to be used in Astrocast’s first group of ten IoT cubesats to be launched next year.  Delivery of the propulsion systems is scheduled to take place in Q4 of this year and the first quarter of 2019.

Astrocast plans to launch and operate a constellation of up to 64 cubesats for world-wide low-latency IoT and machine to machine (M2M) applications.  Like several satellite IoT startups, the company is building its service around the concept of low-power, low data rate and volume transmissions, incorporating a customized low-power chip into ground equipment for efficiency.   An IoT device anywhere on the planet will be able to transmit to 1 KB per day through the Astrocast system, using L-band spectrum.  When the full constellation is deployed, data delivery between any IoT device and customer is expected to be less than 10 to 15 minutes.

A pair of 3U size pathfinder satellites using the cold-gas propulsion system are scheduled to be launched later this year.  The propulsion system will be the first incorporated into a constellation of cubesats and will enable satellites to be more quickly moved into the necessary orbital positions and well as providing the capability to avoid collisions with in-orbit debris.

Three year old Astrocast says it can build, launch and operate its 64 cubesat constellation for less than $50 million. The company has backing from the European Space Agency, Airbus, and Dubai-based Thuraya, and raised over $7 million in funding by the end of 2017.  Company officials expect to close a formal Series A round of $8 to $10 million in 2018, according to reporting by Space News.

Over 18 startup companies are building satellite IoT services.  Astrocast isn’t the only company planning to launch pathfinders this year.  Blink Astro, Hiber Global, Fleet Space, and Lacuna Space are among the companies that have announced they will have their first hardware in orbit by the end of the year.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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