Sateliot IoT Nanosatellite Constellation
The Spanish startup company Sateliot on July 28, 2020, selected Open Cosmos (UK) to build and operate a constellation of up to 100 small satellites, but stopped short of a firm contract for the full system. 1)
Sateliot is raising funds to build the constellation, designed to connect sensors and devices from low-Earth orbit. The company has raised 2.4 million euros ($2.8 million) since forming in 2018, and hopes to raise a 7-million-euro Series A this year to fund three demonstration satellites, Sateliot chief executive Jaume Sanpera told SpaceNews.
Sateliot estimates it needs $35 million to deploy an initial 16 satellites by the end of 2022, he said, not counting the demonstration satellites. An exact amount for 100 satellites has not been determined, he said.
Open Cosmos of Harwell, United Kingdom, is under contract to build two demonstration satellites for Sateliot, said Rafel Jordá, founder and chief executive of Open Cosmos.
The first satellite is a 3U CubeSat scheduled to launch late this year, Jordá said. A form factor for the second demonstration satellite has not been finalized, he said.
Sanpera said that while Sateliot chose Open Cosmos for its first two prototypes and subsequent constellation, it will openly compete its third prototype with other manufacturers.
Open Cosmos builds CubeSats and smallsats up to 50 kg, but its business model centers on turnkey solutions for customers, Jordá said. For Sateliot, the company is arranging launches, ground station communications and insurance, and will operate the satellites in addition to building them, he said.
Sateliot is designing its satellites to fill gaps for 5G mobile network operators, providing roaming services for sensors and devices on trucks, precision agriculture equipment, clean energy infrastructure and other sectors, Sanpera said. The company signed an unfunded memorandum of understanding with the European Space Agency in January to collaborate on integrating space and terrestrial 5G solutions.
Figure 1: Artist's rendition of a 3U CubeSat (image credit: Open Cosmos)
Open Cosmos Ltd. is working on the construction, mission management and launch preparation of the first Sateliot nanosatellites. In July 2020, Open Cosmos has sealed a deal with satellite communications operator Sateliot of Barcelona, Spain, to build and operate their nanosatellite constellation, enabling continuous global connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) under the 5G architecture. 2)
Figure 2: Sateliot's initial goal is a constellation of 16 satellites by the end of 2022 (image credit: Sateliot)
Open Cosmos is already underway in the manufacturing, mission management and launch of the first satellites, out of the one hundred which comprises the full constellation, that Sateliot has scheduled for construction before the end of 2022. These nanosatellites operate in low Earth orbit, flying at an approximate altitude of 500 km to guarantee IoT connectivity at a global scale and in almost realtime.
The forecast for the next two years is that there will be more than 50 billion IoT devices globally and with this constellation Sateliot is perfectly positioned to partner with conventional telecommunication providers to ensure ubiquitous coverage.
Sateltiot will also offer monitoring and tracking systems, data analysis and processes in areas such as: maritime, railways, aeronautical, agriculture & farming, oil & gas exploration, electric or critical infrastructure.
Rafel Jordá, Founder and CEO of Open Cosmos, said “We are excited to have satellite production underway for these satellites and to be progressing with all other aspects of the mission, including system integration, launch, licensing & logistics, as well as orbit operations. We are delighted to partner with Sateliot to enable the reality of IoT anywhere”.
• February 9, 2022: Sateliot raised 10 million euros ($11.4 million) in a Series A investment round the Spanish internet-of-things startup conducted in two tranches. 3)
Figure 3: Sateliot CEO Jaume Sanpera discussed plans for the Spanish startup's internet-of-things constellation at the 2022 SmallSat Symposium (image credit: Sateliot)
- Sateliot raised 6.5 million euros in the first tranche of deals completed in December. At the SmallSat Symposium here, Sateliot executives said they concluded the second tranche.
- With the completion of the round, global technology company Indra owns approximately 10.5 percent of Sateliot. Cellnex, a European telecommunications and broadcasting giant, owns another 3.5 percent.
- Unlike many of the other satellite IoT companies, Sateliot does not seek its own IoT service customers. Instead, Sateliot forges agreements with mobile network operators.
- “Mobile operators just cover 10 percent of the world,” said Sateliot CEO Jaume Sanpera. “There is 90 percent of the world that is lacking coverage.”
- By launching a constellation of nanosatellites to communicate directly with IoT devices, Sateliot becomes “the coverage extender of the mobile operators,” Sanpera said. “Our constellation is connected to mobile networks in order to do seamless roaming with them. For the mobile operator, it means they have full coverage.”
- With funding from the Series A round, Sateliot is developing technology to merge satellite and mobile networks. The company also has opened an office in San Diego, where Sateliot participated in EvoNexus, a startup accelerator sponsored by Qualcomm and Verizon.
- With help from Indra, Sateliot will develop new satellite IoT products and services for the aerospace sector. Cellnex, meanwhile, will offer valuable guidance on 5G technology, Sanpera said in a statement.
- Additional investors in the Sateliot Series A round include Seraphim Capital and GateHouse, a Danish satellite software developer.
• March 22, 2021: Today, the first nanosatellite, named Enxaneta, of the Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) took off at 7:07:12 am (CET), from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan. This is the first of several nanosatellites that the Catalan Government will put into orbit in the framework of the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia. 4)
- The data will initially be used by the departments of the Catalan Government, with the aim to open data access to universities, research centers, technology centers and companies, later on. Among other applications, the data will be used to monitor the flow of rivers and water reserves throughout the territory, improving water management; to monitor and protect wildlife; to receive weather data from stations located in remote locations; to monitor soil movements to anticipate natural disasters and to monitor livestock and crops to detect disease and define more efficient strategies.
Figure 4: Image of the nanosatellite “Enxaneta”, once placed in the dispenser by the Open Cosmos company staff (image credits: Open Cosmos)
Figure 5: Image of the payload of the Soyuz 2 rocket, with the nanosatellite “Enxaneta” attached to it (marked with a red circle), image credit: GK Launch Services
• January 2021: Sateliot, the satellite telecommunications operator that will launch the first nanosatellite constellation to democratize the IOT with 5G coverage, will provide its expertise in 5G satellite communications in a secure information exchange project for banks, security agencies and governments worldwide. 5)
- This project, called Quango, has been supported by the European Commission with € 2.1 million of funding and involves research centers such as ICFO (Institute of Photonic Sciences) in Barcelona, as well as international universities such as Malta’s University, the Sorbonne in Paris and Padova in Italy, and companies with expertise in the space sector.
- Quango’s objective is to design and demonstrate in the laboratory a satellite with a double payload which will, on the one hand, enable 5G connection and, on the other, introduce an end-to-end encryption device using the QKD (Quantum Key Distribution) technique. This system will thus allow the secure exchange of information between organisms located thousands of kilometers away, the size of a microwave, which will fly at an altitude of about 600 km.
- To make this possible, Sateliot will use all the expertise acquired in the design of its nanosatellite constellation for IOT with 5G and will support the integration of this technology into a device capable of generating and exchanging security keys using the laws of quantum physics. In addition, it will develop the study of its application with a European bank.
- The secure exchange of sensitive information is of crucial importance in our society because, among other things, it protects the transfer of money, commercial transactions, medical data, remote control of critical infrastructures (electricity network, telecommunications, etc.) from all kinds of external interference.
- In the future, this project could also represent an opportunity for Sateliot, as the company sees the possibility of taking advantage of its nanosatellite constellation to house both this encryption system and its IOT systems, as a way of optimizing both missions.
- According to Marco Guadalupi, Sateliot’s CTO, “the European Commission’s support for this project is a very important step in the implementation and development of 5G by satellite with applications as important as this one. Furthermore, this effort in research and innovation may represent a new way of optimizing and making even more efficient the satellite missions in which we are currently working to make a global and massive IOT with 5G coverage possible”.
- Sateliot is the first satellite telecommunications operator that will provide global and continuous connectivity to all the elements that make up the universe of the Internet of Things (IoT) – such as the connected car or home – under the 5G protocol. Thanks to a constellation of nanosatellites of the latest generation, located at low altitude and acting as mobile towers, Sateliot is the perfect complement to the large telecommunications companies by providing them with the necessary infrastructure where terrestrial technologies do not reach.
• November 2020: The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has approved Sateliot’s plan to launch a constellation of 100 nanosatellites for Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. Sateliot announced in November that it is now permitted to coordinate the frequencies of its nanosatellite constellation with telecom operators. The company now plans to begin a round of talks with the space operators and public administrations to ensure frequency compatibility. 6)
- Sateliot, which is based in Spain, is planning to build a constellation of nanosatellites at low altitudes that act as mobile towers in space as a complement to telcos to provide connectivity for the IoT beyond the limits of terrestrial infrastructure, under 5G protocol.
- In addition, the 3GPP working group for non-terrestrial IoT networks also plans to discuss a Sateliot proposal to include a scenario for LEO nanosatellite networks providing IOT services in the definition of the 5G standard.
Launch: The first Sateliot nanosatellite, a 3U CubeSat, was launched as a passenger payload on 22 March 2021 (06.07:12 UTC) on a Suyuz-2.1a vehicle, operated by GK Launch Services from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan. 7)
Orbit: Sun-synchronous orbit, altitude of ~550 km.
Figure 6: Delivery of 38 spacecraft from 18 countries into three Sun Synchronous Orbits (SSO), image credit: Satnews 8)
• CAS500-1 (Compact Advanced Satellite 500-1) of KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute). A minisatellite of 500 kg with a high-resolution optical payload for Earth observation.
• ELSA-d of Astroscale, Japan. Two satellites, Chaser/Servicer (180 kg) and Target/Client (20 kg) to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal.
• Four GRUS smallsats of Axelspace, Japan. Earth observation at strict revisit rate.
• NAJM-1 smallsat, Saudi Arabia, is an experimental/educational small satellite pathfinder mission for low-duty cycle earth imaging and communication from LEO.
• DMSAT-1 (Dubai Municipality Satellite-1) smallsat (15 kg) is developed for the MBRSC (Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre) in Dubai to perform multi-spectral observations in the visible and near-infrared bands in order to detect and monitor aerosols in the upper atmosphere.
• Three ADELIS-SAMSON (1, 2, 3) smallsats, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, are designed for demonstration of long-term autonomous cluster flight of multiple satellites and geolocation of the position of a terrestrial transmitter.
• Two Kepler 6/7 smallsats of Kepler Communications Inc., Canada They are designed for the wideband and high data-rate communication in Ku-band, as well as low-data rate narrowband communication in S-band. The spacecraft provide data transfer services to locations, assets, and IoT systems distributed across the globe with the Global Data Service (GDS) and EverywhereIoT services.
• NANOSATC-BR2 smallsat is a scientific, academic and technological satellite designed for monitoring of the Earth’s Ionosphere and Magnetic Field, Southern Regional Space Research Center, University of Santa Maria, Brazil.
• KMSL smallsat is a scientific satellite (experiments in microgravity), College of Engineering, Chosun University, Gwangju, Republic of Korea.
• Pumbaa and Timon smallsats are designed for obtaining images of solar corona—including the region that is 10 times the Sun’s angular diameter. Astrodynamics and Control Laboratory of Yonsei University, Seoul City, Republic of Korea.
• Four Beesat-5,-6,-7,-8 smallsats, TU (Technische Universität) Berlin, Germany.
• Hiber-3 smallsat, the Netherlands, are designed for the provision of satellite connectivity to “internet-of-things” (IOT) devices.
• Unisat-7 smallsat, GAUSS Srl, Italy, has been developed for the tryout of technology for the precise orbit insertion of small satellites of CubeSat format. The mission is based on the successful idea of acting first as an in-orbit deployer of third-party satellites, then operating as a flexible in-orbit demonstrator for space technology, while maintaining the telemetry RF link open for radio amateurs worldwide. UNISAT-7 will release six smallsats:
- Unicorn-1, tryout of technology for the precise orbit insertion of small satellites of CubeSat format, Germany
- DIY-1, test of deorbiting mechanism and verification of space qualification of the radio and solar cells, Argentina
- FEES, educational and scientific research satellite, Italy
- STECCO, educational and scientific research satellite, tryout of attitude control technology using the gravity gradient, Italy
- SMOG-1, Educational and scientific research satellite, Hungary
- BCCSAT-1, Educational and scientific research satellite, Thailand.
• The First smallsat of High School of Economics “NIU VShE — DZZ”. The NRU HSE Earth Observation spacecraft has been developed through joint efforts by the Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM) and SPUTNIX. The 3U CubeSat is equipped with an experimental camera based on the stepped (Fresnel) lenses developed by the Samara University, and with a high-speed X-range transmitter. MIEM students were responsible for qualification of the satellite’s control systems.
• 3U CubeSat of Sirius Center and NRU HSE. The spacecraft is equipped with an improved DeCor-type instrument to monitor quick changes in the space radiation fluxes. Researchers from the Sirius University and the Moscow University’s Scientific and Research Institute of Nuclear Physics are in charge of the project’s scientific component – handling the space radiation detector and mission’s mathematical algorithms.
• 6U CubeSat Zorkiy (Sputnix). The satellite is equipped with a high-resolution (up to several meters per a pixel) telescope camera manufactured by the Lepton Research and Production Association (NPO Lepton). This makes it stand out among other spacecraft of a similar size.
• SIMBA smallsat, Sapienza – University of Rome, Italy, is designed for monitoring of the wildlife behavior.
• GRBAlpha smallsat, University of Košice, has been developed to demonstrate the detector technology and electronics for the future “CubeSats Applied for MEasuring and LOcalizing Transients” (CAMELOT) mission, which is a planned constellation of nanosatellites providing all-sky coverage with high sensitivity and localization accuracy following detections of gamma-ray transients.
• Open Cosmos, the space company that provides end-to-end satellite missions, is the supplier of two of the missions to be launched on board. The company has been responsible for the design, manufacturing, integration and mission management of the custom-built nanosatellites for Lacuna Space and Sateliot.
• Challenge One smallsat is an “Internet of Things” satellite, includes an innovative communication technology developed in TELNET facilities by Tunisian expertise. This Tunisian Satellite Launch will be the basis for the creation of a new space ecosystem for Tunisia and its region.
• KSU CubeSat by the College of engineering (COE) at King Saud University is sending telemetry data and photos from the space to the ground station.
• LacunaSat2-B of Lacuna Space based in UK and NL provides global connectivity for Internet-of-Things devices.
• Sateliot is the satellite telecommunications operator that will launch a constellation of nanosatellites to democratize the Internet of Things with 5G coverage. The company plans to deploy 16 satellites from 2022 reaching 96 and an investment of over 100 million euros by 2025. The first Sateliot mission is named Enxaneta , a 3U CubeSat (~10 kg), developed by by the Catalan companies Sateliot and Open Cosmos through a contract tendered by the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya). “Enxaneta” will transmit all the collected data to the Ground Station of the Montsec Observatory (OAdM), located in Sant Esteve de la Sarga, in the Pallars Jussà, and managed by IEEC.
1) Caleb Henry, ”Open Cosmos selected to build Spanish smallsat constellation,” SpaceNews, 29 July 2020, URL: https://spacenews.com/open-cosmos-selected-to-build-spanish-smallsat-constellation/
2) ”Open Cosmos will build and operate Sateliot’ nanosatellite constellation,” Open Cosmos, 29 July 2020, URL: https://www.open-cosmos.com/news/
4) ”The first nanosatellite of the Catalan Government successfully launched, marking important milestone of Catalonia’s NewSpace strategy,” IEEC News, 22 March 2021, URL: http://www.ieec.cat/content/media/news/en/904
”Sateliot will connect with 5G IoT secure information exchange
devices for banks, governments and security agencies,” Sateliot,
January 2021, URL: https://sateliot.space/
6) ”Sateliot Receives ITU Approval to Launch IoT Nanosatellite Constellation,” Sateliot, November 2020, URL: https://sateliot.space/sateliot-receives-itu-approval-to-launch-iot-nanosatellite-constellation/
Stephen Clark, ”Privately-funded mission takes off to begin space
debris cleanup trials,” Spaceflight Now, 22 March 2021, URL: https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/03/22/
8) ”From Baikonur, 38 SmallSats Preparing For Push To Orbit By GK Launch Services,” Satnews, 16 March 2021, URL: https://news.satnews.com/2021/03/16/
The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (firstname.lastname@example.org).