A Russian Soyuz rideshare mission was scrubbed today, March 20, 2021, delaying launch of satellites for several commercial IoT and imaging companies. The next launch attempt from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is scheduled to take place on March 22, 2021, according to a brief post from GK Launch Services.
IoT companies with satellites onboard the Soyuz 2.1a include Kepler Communications, Hiber Global, and Lacuna Space. Kepler is putting up a pair of 6UXL cubesats on this mission, joining 10 other production satellites capable of 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 3 is a 3U cubesat with propulsion capability, joining Hiber 4 launched in January 2021. The new satellites were developed and built in-house. Hiber is focusing efforts on turn-key solutions for vertical markets, having announced packages for oil and gas monitoring and heavy equipment monitoring. Other connectivity options include a customizable gateway that supports LoRaWAN.
Lacuna Space currently has three satellites in orbit and will add a fourth with a successful Soyuz launch. LacunaSat 2b is a 3U cubesat designed to pick up data from LoRaWAN devices fine-tuned to communicate with a satellite overhead.
The Challenge ONE 3U cubesat built by the Tunisian TELNET group is a proof-of-concept project that includes a LoRA transceiver, software defined radio and a LoRa gateway to provide both uplink and downlink capabilities to terrestrial nodes. It will also be the first Tunisian owned satellite in orbit. Telnet plans to launch up to 30 satellites for an IoT constellation.
Japanese Axelspace has four GRUS imaging satellites onboard the flight, 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.
A total of 38 satellites are on board, with the primary customer 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 Astrocast pathfinders for deorbiting orbital debris and a three satellite RF survey cluster by Technion.