Space IT Bridge caught up with Lacuna Space CEO Rob Spurrett at Satellite 2020 in Washington D.C. last week to discuss the company’s LoRaWAN satellite success and future plans.
Lacuna Space has implemented modified LoRaWAN code developed in collaboration with Semtech Corporation, the inventors of LoRa, that will be available on an open-source basis in order to detect the large number of LoRa sensors in a satellite receiver’s field of view.
Using LoRa via satellite without the modified code will work on a “one off” basis, Spurrett said, but won’t scale with thousands of devices. Semtech has put in a lot of code into its LoRa chip for future applications. Access to and a good working relationship with Semtech is necessary to fully understand everything inside the LoRa silicon.
Currently Lacuna is producing LoRa satellite sensors at around $20 dollars in small lot quantities. Mass production of the devices is expected to significantly drive the cost down.
Lacuna Space has one LoRa receiver in orbit, a payload co-hosted with Blink Astro onboard a NanoAvionics 6U cubesat. Two more hosted payloads are respectively scheduled to go up on a PSLV launch in early April and a Rocket Lab rideshare launch later in April. Spurrett said two dedicated satellites will be launched later this year onboard Soyuz rideshare missions.
Currently Lacuna Space’s LoRaWAN network is one-way from ground to space, with the satellite listening for LoRa messages in the appropriate ISM bands. Ground devices operate as normal terrestrial ISM devices within the standard ISM regulatory rules within a country/region.
Spurrett says Lacuna doesn’t rely on a return channel to devices but intends to have one at some point in the future. He wouldn’t go into details on how one might be implemented due to competitive reasons.