NanoAvionics Columbia, IL facilities (Source: NanoAvionics)

New satellite contracts, second U.S. office for NanoAvionics

Lithuanian-based NanoAvionics announced on March 5 it landed a contract to build five imaging satellites for an “EarthTV” constellation plus a March 12 announcement to build a pair of 6U nanosats for another firm. The company also officially opened a second office in the United States. 

Sen plans to provide real-time and timely Ultra-High Definition (UHD) video of Earth with its EarthTV constellation.  The service will be used for monitoring environmental events and natural disasters, along with monitoring climate change and the movements of large groups of people.

“Our planet is constantly changing and Sen’s satellites will provide a new and persistent way of seeing events unfolding, empowering humanity to witness the evolution of our planet in a unique way. We hope to increase awareness of environmental events and human movement with information that can educate, inspire and empower people to change and improve the outcome,” says Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen. “We are delighted to be working with NanoAvionics. They have a great team of engineers, first class facilities and a successful track record of building nano-satellites. Our teams have worked extensively together over the last six months to ensure the satellite bus will meet our specific requirements for streaming high definition videos from several cameras.”

NanoAvionics will build Sen’s 16U satellite buses and integrate Sen’s video payload at the NanoAvionics European manufacturing facility in Vilnius, Lithuania. Each satellite will be equipped with several UHD cameras to provide multiple perspectives of Earth from wide angle imagery down to 1.5 meter resolution.  Launch of EarthTV-1 is expected to take place by mid-2021 with the other four satellites built by NanoAvionics after a successful test demonstration, with launch expected in 2022.

 “Building a real-time video service in space is a fantastic mission and shows the growing capabilities of nano-satellites”, said Vytenis J. Buzas, co-founder and CEO of NanoAvionics. “We have scaled our flagship preconfigured M6P bus to achieve 12U and 16U form factors and to provide customers like Sen with more possibilities for their missions and payloads. These scaled-up versions have already become our most sought-after products and main workhorses in enabling innovative satellite missions in LEO.”

Founded in 2014, Sen demonstrated 4K Ultra High Definition video from a satellite with six cameras during its first mission launched in February 2019, filming both the satellite and wide-angle imagery of Earth with its steerable cameras. Sen’s videos will be freely accessible for individuals, with premium services for businesses and organizations. An open source data platform will be available to enable partners to build apps and analytics using the video data.  Ultimately, Sen plans to move beyond LEO and put cameras on planetary orbiters, rovers and drones at the Moon, Mars and further into the Solar System.

NanoAvionics had few details in its March 12 satellite announcement other than it had a “full mission contract” for two 6U nanosatellites “from a U.S. commercial data services company”, according to the press release. The contract includes payload integration, launch and operation services for the two satellites, both based on a NanoAvionics pre-configured M6P business. Launch for both satellites is planned for the end of this year.

In the U.S., NanoAvionics opened its news sales and engineering support office in Columbia, Illinois.  The facility is expected to be the company’s primary hub in the U.S. and the first satellite factory in Illinois and the Midwest.   NanoAvionics expects to take advantage of its location close to multiple universities with graduates and staff “equipped with nanosatellite experience” along with low cost of operations and living.  The company’s first U.S. facility at the Midland Texas Air and Space Port will be kept as a scalable resource for high-quantity nanosatellite bus production.

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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