Satellite Internet of Things (IoT) company Kepler Communications recently announced some of its proof of concept (POC) trial results with customers using its first pathfinder satellite KIPP and chatted with Space News about how it is looking for launch bids to put up its GEN-1 first generation satellite constellation.
Via its monthly email up, Kepler said it has successfully delivered its “ground product” to customers. The first customer was able to transfer larger files at 320 Mbps downlink (satellite to ground) and 100 Mbps uplink speeds to KIPP, a 3U Cubesat launched in January 2018 onboard a Chinese CZ-11 vehicle. More customer deployments are scheduled to take place in September.
In addition, the company expects its second pathfinder satellite, CASE, to launch later this year onboard an Indian PSLV vehicle while the third and final pathfinder, a 6U size satellite dubbed TARS, will be launched in 2019. TARS is being built under a cooperative agreement with the UK government by AAC Clyde.
Kepler opened bids from launch providers on August 28. The company wants to launch up to 15 cubesats within two years, by the third quarter of 2020. With new launch companies entering the market, Kepler wants to take advantage of expanding launch opportunities to get satellites into orbit as fast as possible due to customer demand.
The GEN-1 satellites have a design life of 3 to 5 years and will weigh in between 12 to 15 kilograms and may incorporate onboard propulsion. Kepler may launch five to seven satellites at a time between two operational launch vehicles, but may spread things out to new launchers, depending on the track record of the vehicle.
With the GEN-1 satellites in orbit, Kepler’s revisit (service) time will be around six hours. A GEN-2 constellation of 50 satellites by the end of 2021 will provide a revisit time of about an hour while a GEN-3 full 140 satellite constellation planned operation for the end of 2021 should provide near real-time access.