Two of Scotland’s leading space technology companies are celebrating the successful launch of an advanced new satellite, into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre (JSLC) in North-Western China on January 19 2018.
Created for Canadian communications company Kepler, the KIPP satellite (named after the robot in Interstellar), an advanced 3U CubeSat, measuring only 10 x 30 cm, is a pilot for the company’s full satellite constellation.
Shortly after reaching its operating orbit, Kepler reported that KIPP was: ‘happy, healthy, and performing as expected.”
KIPP is Kepler’s first commercial LEO satellite. It uses the company’s new Software Defined Radio (SDR) making it the first operate in Ku-band, a highly sought-after frequency band for communications for many of the planned micro-satellite ‘mega constellations’. KIPP is the first of a planned 140 spacecraft in Kepler’s planned LEO constellation.
Next Generation of Communications Satellites
The successful launch of KIPP promises to open new business opportunities for applications such as bulk data transfer and the rapidly evolving Internet of Things (IoT). Data gathered by the constellation will have a range of applications from intelligent shipping to smart agriculture to improvements in health and safety.
Kepler has pilot customers for the KIPP satellite who plan to use it for ‘store and forward’ back-haul, meaning the satellite will collect customer data as it passes over assets and store it in on-board memory until it passes over a ground station ready to accept the down-link.
Connecting devices on Earth is the initial focus of Kepler’s business, to be followed by inter-satellite links that connect other spacecraft around the planet. Kepler says its satellite will eventually be able to connect other satellites, space stations and space transport vehicles.
Kepler’s second demonstrator, Case, is launching later this year and will include upgrades based on lessons learned while designing Kipp. Kepler CEO Mina Mitry said Case (named after another Interstellar robot) won’t test intersatellite links. “That comes later in our roadmap,” he said.
Designed, built and delivered for launch in just 12 months, this high performance small satellite is a milestone for the companies involved. KIPP is the first of a number of 3U and 6U Clyde Space CubeSats scheduled for launch in 2018.
The launch of KIPP marks Bright Ascension’s second successful mission after the launch of UKube-1, the first satellite to be built in Scotland, in 2014. A further eight launches of spacecraft using the company’s software are planned over the course of 2018.
A New Era of Space Communications
Craig Clark, the CEO of Clyde Space said: “We would like to congratulate our friends at Kepler Communications for making history this week, and to everyone who has contributed to the success of the mission. We are indeed entering into a new era of space-based communications.
“We have been working with Bright Ascension for a number of years, starting the successful UKube-1 mission and have come to regard them as part of our core delivery team. With the Kepler mission we have proven that it is possible to deliver cutting edge spacecraft technology to orbit on a very aggressive timescale and the team at Bright Ascension were integral to making this possible. I thank them for their continued excellent support to our missions.”
Kepler CEO, Mina Mitry added: “We are really excited that we can claim the first Ku LEO satellite, a key milestone in achieving our long-term vision. Clyde Space has proven to be a great partner and has demonstrated their ability to meet challenging system requirements within our required timelines.”
The news comes only weeks after Clyde Space announced that it has been acquired by Swedish company AAC Microtec.
DIGIT loves space and would like to offer huge congratulations to both Bright Ascension and Clyde Space on an entirely awesome news story.