Swiss-based IoT company Astrocast says it plans to launch its first production satellites in the first quarter of 2020, with twenty in orbit by the end of 2020 then continuing to launch at a rate of 30 satellites per year after that. It doesn’t anticipate any delays to its launch schedule because of the recent Vega launch accident.
Fabien Jordan, founder and CEO of Astrocast, stated via Twitter that five satellites are to be launched in the first quarter of 2020, five more “a bit later” and “10 on Vega in late 2020. Then 30 per year.” A spokesperson for Astrocast said the late 2020 launch opportunity is far enough out not to affect the company. Jordan didn’t say what launch vehicles would be used for the first two launch opportunities in 2020, but Astrocast apparently doesn’t have satellites on a September 2019 Vega rideshare missions as reported by other sources.
Production for the 10 satellites scheduled to go up in the first part of 2020 has taken place, with Jordan posting a picture of one of the satellites on July. Assembly of the satellites took place in a single day, Jordan tweeted, and the hardware is now undergoing testing.
Operating in the L-band, Astrocast will provide low-cost narrowband IoT communications for applications requiring a few kilobytes or less of connectivity per day. Initial service in 2020 will provide service once or twice a day, with bi-directional communications available for fixed assets only, according to the company’s website. Deployment of the full satellite constellation by 2023 will provide average end-to-end latency between 5 to 7 minutes with maximum end-to-end latency of 15 minutes, with bi-direction communication available for both mobile and fixed assets.
Uplink message size can go up to 160 bytes, with downlink message sizes available in either 8 or 40 bytes, with full end-to-end 256 bit AES encryption implemented. A full commercial development kit will be released in 2020.