More Internet of Things (IoT) satellite start-ups are making commitments to do more in orbit. Lacuna Space has signed its second contract with NanoAvionics while OQ is working with GomSpace to demonstrate its communications protocols with an existing satellite prior to launching its own hardware.
Lacuna’s new agreement will add another NanoAvionics M6P satellite to its inventory and the fourth Lacuna Space payload launched this year with its LoRa IoT Gateway. Launch of the satellite is scheduled to take place in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“Satellites in the Lacuna Network will receive data directly from inexpensive battery-powered LoRa IoT devices, even in the most remote parts of the world,” Lacuna Space chief executive officer Rob Spurret said. “Following the successful progress of our demonstration mission earlier this year, we are happy to be working with NanoAvionics in the further deployment of our constellation, thanks to support from ESA, UK Space Agency and our partner Semtech Corporation.”
Lacuna Space already has a successful record working with NanoAvionics. The company launched a demonstration mission onboard a NanoAvionics M6P bus in April 2019, sharing the satellite with Blink Astro. When finished, Lacuna Space plans to have a constellation of 32 nanosatellites in low Earth orbit, using the LoRaWAN communications protocol to pick up short data messages from IoT devices around the world that are outside of existing wireless coverage.
Luxembourg-based OQ Technology will demonstrate its IoT waveform using one of the GOMX-4 6U satellites launched in 2018. The TIGER mission will load the IoT waveform onto the satellite’s software-defined radio (SDR), enabling OQ to test the waveform to send and receive information to test how it works in the real world. OQ’s tests will enable it to optimize its product and mitigate risks for the company’s final MACSAT satellite demonstration.
“Our vision is that we can simply upload our software to any software-defined radio payload on any other satellite,” said Omar Qaise, CEO of OQ Technology. ”Given the high level of scalability that we can integrate into our system once it is deployed, we may no longer need to build our own satellites. We could simply transform any flying satellite into an OQ Technology payload host providing our service to the end customer. We are very grateful to GomSpace for allowing us to use their satellite and their SDR for our TIGER mission, we look forward to working with them.”
Qaise’s suggestion OQ doesn’t need to build its own satellites and the use of SDR is likely to gain interest from other cubesat operators. SDR is a standard feature of many cubesats, so OQ might be able to simple lease radio time onboard deployed satellites instead of putting the capital expense of building and launching hardware.