5G IoT nanosatellite to board Musk’s next Falcon Heavy mission
Among the precious cargo to board SpaceX’s Falcon 9 series of rocket launches next year will be a 5G nanosatellite constellation aimed at providing cheaper connectivity for IoT devices.
Barcelona-based start-up Sateliot has announced the launch of its first functional nanosatellite in the first quarter of 2023 on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, with the aim of launching four more by the end of next year.
The satellite telco operator hailed the move as a “breakthrough in connectivity” that would “completely change how we live” by enabling anyone with a standard 5G device to stay connected anywhere in the world without needing to purchase expensive proprietary equipment.
The firm added that it would also positively impact the logistics, agriculture, maritime, energy, utilities, transportation and environmental sectors.
Sateliot, which claims its mission is to offer global satellite IoT connectivity over standard direct-to-satellite narrowband IoT ( 5G NB-IoT) at a similar price to terrestrial, blamed lack of global IoT take up on “standardisation, a high price tag and a lack of reliable coverage”.
In a press statement it added that it wanted to solve these problems by launching a network of small, powerful satellites “to provide total, reliable coverage to every corner of the world, including oceans, disaster zones and remote regions.”
“Today’s satellite devices all belong to proprietary operators and often cost $500 or more, limiting access for massive applications…This technology will work for anyone with any standard IoT device, regardless of operator,” it added.
Sateliot’s CEO, the Spanish technology entrepreneur Jaume Sanpera, who cofounded the firm in 2018, said that the aim was to provide connectivity in areas that traditional networks can’t reach.
“We have now launched two satellites, marking the official start of our working constellation, and will launch four more by the end of 2023.
“Our nanosatellite network will benefit everyone across every sector by granting access to coverage that’s just as robust on a yacht as it is in the most rural areas where traditional networks can’t reach,” he added.
Outlining several enterprise uses, the firm believes its technology can potentially double the effectiveness of agritech, boosting precision agriculture production from $250 billion to $500bn by 2030. Other applications include potential savings of up to 15% on energy costs, 20% in train maintenance and a 5-8% increase in logistics savings.
In terms of conservation, it claims that marine biologists can track declining populations like blue whales in a cheaper, more effective way: “Oceans cover 71% of Earth, yet land-based networks can’t provide coverage there. Previously, we had to rely on expensive, bulky satellite devices, making it hard to perform important tasks like tracking endangered animals.”
According to TechCrunch Sateliot has raised a total of almost 13m Euros in funding over three rounds. Its latest, in April 2022 came from an undisclosed source.
Space X launched its most recent Falcon Heavy mission last week from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which is carrying the classified USSF-44 mission for the US Space Force
In July Ericsson, Qualcomm and Thales also launched a test to explore “anywhere on earth” 5G.
TechInformed has also reported on sustainability of satellites in space.
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