'

Sky and Space completes construction of test nano-satellites

The company, which will launch 200 miniature satellites through Virgin's LauncherOne in order to provide mobile coverage to those living in remote areas worldwide, has finished building its first three test nano-satellites.

Australian Securities Exchange-listed telecommunications company Sky and Space Global has announced completing construction on its first three nano-satellites, the Three Diamonds.

The commercial demonstration satellites are now undergoing assembly, integration, and verification prior to being launched later this year.

"The testing process that the nano-satellites will undergo includes the full functional tests of all subsystems to ensure systems are functioning as required; testing of ground control and hotspot user device satellite interfaces; and environmental testing of mechanical and thermal systems for launch approval," the company explained.

Satellite communications systems provider Ayecka will be managing the software testing process for data and messaging, as well as building prototype hotspots that will enable several mobile devices to connect to the Sky and Space satellite network through Wi-Fi and an app.

Sky and Space Global CTO Meidad Pariente said the company is "happy with the test results so far".

"We're also very happy to work with Ayecka on our prototypes that will allow any mobile device to become a satellite communicator and test the communications network our Three Diamonds will provide," Pariente added.

Once testing concludes, the nano-satellites will be integrated into the launch pod and transported to the Indian Space Research Organisation's launch site in India.

Sky and Space Global will create a pilot network by launching the first three nano-satellites in the second quarter of 2017 off a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation.

EU satellite maker GomSpace began constructing the Three Diamonds in March.

Sky and Space Global, which in May last year raised $4.5 million in funds to list on the ASX via a reverse takeover of Burleson Energy, is aiming to build a wholesale narrowband low-cost voice and data network through the provision of satellite services that it will sell to telco providers throughout equatorial Asia, South America, Central America, and Africa, as well as to shipping companies and airliners operating in those areas.

In September, Sky and Space announced purchasing four dedicated missions from Virgin Galactic to launch up to 200 nano-satellites into space on its vehicle LauncherOne, which launches from atop a Boeing 747.

The four missions will carry several nano-satellites, allowing the company to deploy most of its "full constellation" from 2018, with an aim of being done by 2020.

Sky and Space signed a letter of intent with Virgin Galactic in June to use LauncherOne from 2018, with the former saying it will provide significant cost savings as several satellites can be launched at once, in addition to flexibility in terms of launch timelines and orbital parameters.

The nano-satellites are 80 percent cheaper than conventional satellites, costing approximately $400 million to $500 million to build, measuring just 10x10x30cm, and weighing between 1kg and 10kg.

While Sky and Space Global will have a ground station, much of the work will be automated.

"Our communication network will be constructed from between 150 and 200 satellites in different orbital planes that will cover earth from Latitude 15 North to Latitude 15 South, providing 24/7 availability of service," Sky and Space Global CEO Meir Moalem explained last year.

"Our services will include voice conversation, instant messaging (texting), and also data transfer through our 'store and forward' service. Our network will include unique 'in-space' automatic network management, which is part of Sky and Space Global's unique disruptive technology and IP.

"We also plan to provide private, secured communication services to premium customers, based on our 'store and forward' capability."