Internet of Things (IoT) start-up Fleet Space Technologies has signed a contract to launch two of its satellites onboard the next Rocket Lab flight, dubbed “It’s Business Time.” The launch is scheduled to occur in November from New Zealand.
Rocket Lab is emphasizing the speed in which the two Fleet “Proxima” satellites will be launched after contract signing, with the company saying “just weeks” passed between signing the agreement and getting the satellites onboard the manifest. Each Proxima satellite is a 1.5U cubesat and are expected to be the first of a larger constellation of 100 satellites providing connectivity for sensors devices based in remote locations around the world.
Proxima I and II were both designed and built by Fleet. The two satellites will mark the first commercial tests of the company’s software-defined radios (SDRs), enabling the company to move data in both S-band and L-band frequencies in space. SDR is a key technology being used by a number of small satellite start-ups.
The Fleet satellites join a group of other passengers onboard the Rocket Lab flight, including a pair of Spire Global Lemur-2 satellites, a GeoOptics satellite, an educational cubesat and a drag sail technology demonstrator. Rocket Lab tried to launch “It’s Business Time” in late June, but had to scrub due to hardware problems.
Moving forward, Fleet will build and launch larger Centauri satellites, with the first Centaurs expected to go into orbit using other launch vehicles later this year. Fleet is booked onboard the Spaceflight SSO-A Falcon 9 launch scheduled to take place in November from Vandenberg Air Force base and likely also has a satellite onboard an India PSLV rideshare flight scheduled to take place by the end of the year.
Fleet already has released its Portal ground hardware for general availability, a device that is a combination of gateway and edge-computing to connect up to a thousand devices via Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). The Portal can use a number of satellite connectivity options, including Iridium’s constellation and Fleet’s own satellites.