Sky and Space completes nano-satellite testing

In-orbit testing of Sky and Space Global's three nano-satellites has concluded, with messages transmitted for 2000km within the constellation, ahead of commercial trials.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

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

Testing concluded that the constellation of commercial demonstration miniature satellites is able to transmit messages for 2000km, with a pair of satellites transmitting messages while the third acted as a relay.

During the testing phase, Sky and Space also achieved Doppler tracking, communication carrier lock, and establishment of the customer satellite link, exchanging data packets between space and Earth.

According to Sky and Space, it has also become the world's first company to "pioneer nano-satellite formation control via differential drag".

With its three satellites now fully certified by EU satellite maker GomSpace, Sky and Space has begun the regulatory process with Ofcom in the United Kingdom to bring into use its International Telecommunication Union (ITU) filings for spectrum frequency licences.

Sky and Space will next use the Three Diamonds in commercial trials for the provision of data, video, and text.

The news follows Sky and Space in January completing construction on the Three Diamonds ahead of creating its pilot network by launching the three nano-satellites off a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation.

GomSpace began constructing the Three Diamonds in March.

Sky and Space Global, which in May last year raised $4.5 million 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.

It is aiming to have 200 nano-satellites in orbit by 2020, in September last year purchasing four dedicated missions from Virgin Galactic to launch these mini satellites into space on its vehicle LauncherOne, which itself launches from atop a Boeing 747.

The four missions will carry several nano-satellites, with Sky and Space signing a letter of intent with Virgin Galactic in June 2016 to use LauncherOne from 2018.

According to Sky and Space, this 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, Sky and Space said, costing approximately $400 million to $500 million to build, measuring 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."

Editorial standards