Astrocast signs D-Orbit launch agreement (Source: Astrocast)

Astrocast signs 10 satellite launch deal at SmallSat Conference

Today, August 7, Internet of Things (IoT) startup Astrocast signed an agreement with D-Orbit to launch ten cubesats onboard an Arianespace rocket between late 2019 and early 2020. The agreement, signed at the SmallSat Conference in Logan, Utah, calls for the satellites to be launched on an Arianespace Vega rocket from Kourou, French Guiana.

“Astrocast is pleased to partner with D-Orbit in securing an established, proven launch vehicle for our fourth deployment of satellites,” said Fabien Jordan, founder and CEO of Astrocast. “This mission will mark an important milestone for Astrocast, as our second revenue-generating launch.”

The ten Astrocast satellites will be one orbital plane (slice) of the company’s planned 80 satellite constellation. Each of the 8 orbital planes in the network will consist of 8 operational satellites plus 2 on-orbit spares.  The 64 operational satellites will provide cost-effective IoT and machine to machine (M2M) services for the 90 percent of the globe not covered by cellular systems.

Two Astrocast demonstration satellite launches are expected to occur through the end of 2018, including the recently announced Spaceflight SSO-A mission in November and an Indian PSLV mission.  The D-Orbit InOrbit NOW mission will be the fourth deployment of Astrocast spacecraft in orbit and the second of an operational plane of 10 satellites, with the first group of 10 satellites expected to go up onboard an Indian PSLV launch in the second half of 2019.

Astrocast is one of numerous start-ups using cubesats to expand IoT services and substantially lowing the cost for tracking things and communicating with remote devoices around the globe.  Like several entrants, AstroCast has developed low-cost silicon to build a power efficient satellite modem that can be incorporated into IoT applications.   The company is backed by the European Space Agency, Airbus, and satellite operator Thuraya.

The entire Astrocast network, including 80 satellites in orbit and ground network, is expected to cost less than $50 million to build and deploy. To date, Astrocast has raised around $14.5 million between seed money, grants, and the first half of a $15 million Series A investment round.  CEO and founder Fabien Jordan says the company is looking for the “right” partners to bring on for the second half of the Series A round.

By teaming with Thurya, Astrocast has global access and landing rights to L-band spectrum, giving the company a considerable advantage in terms of being able to provide services to anyone, anywhere.

The company’s longer-term project will be building and lowering the cost of its electronics to connect things to its network.  Initial price on an IoT module is between $80 to $100 dollars on the first run with a drop to $50 or less in future runs.  But electronics manufacturers may be tempted by a $5 ASIC chip to integrate into their products, one of the reasons why Astrocast will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *