Kepler announces first 2020 rides for production satellites

Bulk data mover/IoT service provider Kepler Communications has signed an agreement to launch two of its satellites into orbit next year, the first of what the company says will be “multiple batches” of its next-generation spacecraft for its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation for data services.

Launch broker Innovative Space Logistics has secured space onboard a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle expected to go up in the second or third quarter of 2020.

“ISL has been a key partner for us [Kepler] as we have grown in our deployment strategy,” said Jared Bottoms, Head of Launch & Satellite Programs at Kepler. “We are excited to continue to use their unique deployers and services, this time with GK launch services to deploy the first of the next generation.” ISL and Kepler partnered to put Kepler’s first two pathfinder satellites into orbit in 2018. A third Kepler pathfinder satellite is expected to be launched by the end of the year.

The next generation of Kepler’s satellites will include both a high-capacity Ku-band system and a S-band payload, the former for high-speed data transfers and the latter for low-power direct-to-orbit IoT connectivity. Its IoT service is expected to enter user trials in the coming months, according to the company’s press release.

Kepler plans to launch around 140 satellites into LEO in three incremental phases, from 2020 to 2023, with more satellites for phase one going up by the end of 2020. Around 15 phase one/GEN1 satellites are expected to be launched and should incorporate interconnections between satellites to speed data transmission times. The company has raised over $21 million to date and has some paying customers already using its Ka-band pathfinder satellites to pickup and deliver bulk data around the poles, where high-speed broadband is non-existent.

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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