Satellite Internet of Things (IoT) companies continue to move beyond PowerPoint and pretty web pages. Blink Astro is the second company teaming up with NanoAvionics to launch a technology demonstration payload by the end of the year as a precursor to a larger global satellite IoT constellation.
Blink Astro, an Atlanta, Georgia-based company and a subsidiary of SpaceWorks, rolled out the BlinkR Series 1000 ground terminal device in November 2017 as a part of an end-to-end customer solution for agricultural applications. The system measures soil moisture, ambient temperature and ambient humanity and includes an onboard GPS for geolocation of data. Data sampling intervals are customizable, typically taking place every 30 minutes). Moving data via satellite is also customizable, but typically happens 4 times per day).
A big question for Blink Astro and other emerging satellite IoT players is “Where’s the satellite?” NanoAvionics, a Lithuania company, will provide hosting and integration support for Blink’s custom radio payload on a its M6P cubesat platform. Once launched in “late 2018,” according to Blink’s press release, the testing period will take around 6 months to complete a full checkout.
Specific tests to demonstrate the reliability and feasibility of Blink’s end-to-end solution will include reception and coverage of Blink’s low cost IoT ground terminals, multiple access technologies, large point-to-point network architecture antenna performance, and overall signal quality.
This is the second recent satellite IoT win for NanoAvionics in recent days. Lacuna Space recently announced will be using the M6P platform to demo a LoRaWAN satellite IoT system, with the launch occurring in the third quarter of this year. Lacuna says it plans a 32 satellite constellation, with production satellites going up starting in 2019.
Blink hasn’t indicated how many or what size satellites it plans to launch, but website art suggests a 3U cubesat configuration. A passing “BlinkSat” satellite should be overhead every four to six hours to pick up data, so an initial constellation of 3 to 4 satellites might be in the works, with additional satellites added based upon customer needs to pick up more data and/or pickup data more frequently.
The satellite IoT space is going to become very competitive by the end of the year. In addition to Blink Astro and Lacuna Space, Helios Wire says it will be putting up its first satellite by the end of the year. Hopefully the Industrial IoT Conference will manage to find space to discuss the explosion in new satellite options in June, @alwaysoncarl.