Soyuz rideshare March 22 (Source: Kepler Communications)

Second try for Soyuz rideshare succeeds, orbiting IoT & imaging satellites

The GK Launch Services Soyuz-2 commercial rideshare mission was a success on its second launch try, taking place at 2:07 AM ET today, March 22, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Onboard were a total of 38 satellites from 18 countries, including commercial IoT and imaging spacecraft.

Kepler Communications added two more 6XUL cubesats to its commercial IoT constellation, joining 10 other Gen1 satellites in orbit and giving the company a total of 15 operational satellites in orbit.  The GEN1 satellites deliver low-bitrate IoT and Ku-band high data rate relay services. A block of 8 Kepler satellites went into orbit in January 2021 onboard a SpaceX rideshare mission.

Hiber Global now has Hiber 3, a 3U IoT cubesat with propulsion capability, in orbit.  It joins Hiber 4, launched in January onboard a SpaceX rideshare mission.  The two new satellites were developed and built in-house.  Hiber is focusing its IoT efforts on turnkey solutions for vertical markets, having recently announced packages for oil and gas and heavy equipment monitoring.

Lacuna Space 2b is the company’s fourth satellite in orbit, a 3U cubesat designed to directly pick up data from modified LoRaWAN devices, using a modified LoRa software stack and a customized antenna.  Also joining the LoRa-from-Space movement on this flight is Challenge ONE, a 3U proof-of-concept cubesat built by the TELNET group; it is also the first Tunisian satellite.  TELENET plans to launch up to 30 satellites for its IoT constellation.

Sateliot launched its first satellite, a 3U cubesat pathfinder designed to verify the ability for satellites to talk to NB-IoT devices on the ground.  The company has plans to put up to 100 satellites into orbit by 2025, with near-term goals of two more pathfinders this year and 16 satellites into orbit in the 2022-2023 timeframe. By 2025, the company expects to have over 100 people on payroll and bring in annual revenues of 236 million euros.

Japanese Axelspace successfully launched 4 GRUS imaging satellites, with one dedicated for use by the Fukui Prefecture. Each of the GRUS satellites can take single color images with a resolution of 2.5 meters and multispectral images with a resolution of 5 meters.  Once this launch is complete, the company will have a total of 5 GRUS satellites in orbit. Axelspace plans to further expand its constellation in 2022.

The primary customer onboard the Soyuz launch was South Korea’s CAS500 1 imaging spacecraft. Weighing in at around 500 kilograms, the CAS spacecraft is designed to capture images at 5o centimeter resolution. Other satellites onboard include Astroscale pathfinders for deorbiting orbital debris and a three satellite RF survey cluster by Israel’s Technion.

More IoT launch news is expected later this evening with a Rocket Lab flight carrying satellites for Fleet Space and Myriota.

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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