Nanosatellites: Fleet Space Technologies
By J. Tamhane
There are a few thousand man-made satellites revolving around the Earth at various heights and with incredibly fast speeds. Four of these are from a startup company based in Australia called Fleet Space Technologies, with the last one launched on a SpaceX’s Falcon rocket. These particular satellites are the so-called nanosatellites that are about the size of a small carry-on piece of luggage.
The ambitions of Fleet Space are to connect remote areas to the enormous possibilities of IoT. The CEO and the co-founder, Flavia Tata Nardini, has an impressive background in space technologies. She has helped develop innovative systems for satellites and has a couple of patents to be proud of. In her own words, “space is more accessible than ever before. The advent of nanosatellite technology and miniaturised rockets is enabling entrepreneurs, rocket scientists and software engineers to create innovative startups that tackle the world’s greatest challenges from space”.
Now, IoT has been gaining momentum for quite a while. However, most of the advancements have focused on exploiting the improvements in land-based infrastructure. Flavia has a different point of view. She would rather focus on solving some of humanity’s greatest challenges. “As industries undergo digital transformation, businesses are looking towards advancements in technology such as mass-scale industrial Internet of Things (IoT) to fast-track their productivity, efficiencies, and ultimately improve their bottom-lines. Take the agriculture sector, farmers are now using IoT solutions connected to satellite constellations for instantaneous, ultra-granular data to monitor their crops, livestock and pastures”, explains Flavia. And she is right. The agricultural sector is set to benefit substantially from having a line-of-sight to a satellite rather than waiting for the infrastructure to improve in a remote part of the world.
Nevertheless, the cost factor, which Flavia also alludes to, has to make financial sense to a farmer. It cannot be simply something cool and fancy for the sake of it. There have to be tangible benefits for heading in the direction of a space-based technology that most of us would consider to be expensive. This is one of the reasons Fleet Space has teamed up with the LoRa alliance. The philosophy of their network, called LoRaWAN, is to enable communication using low power and over a long range. The low power part of the philosophy helps in keeping the costs low. The long range part makes it feasible to connect remote areas. Now, add the satellites of Fleet Space, and you have quite an attractive value proposition. Just to give you an idea, Flavia points out that Fleet Space “recently launched Project Galaxy — unleashing ultra low-cost connectivity at only US$2 per device, per year to connect one million devices to our IoT network across the globe. The response from our customers was incredible, we registered one million devices within 24 hours and have a waiting list of two million devices, and counting”. Yes, US$2 per device!
Fleet Space is planning on launching another ten satellites to make the reach of their services even more wide scale. This is, surely, just the start. The interest is there. The possibilities are limitless. As Flavia precisely states, “the market has spoken — there is enormous demand for low-power, cost efficient, mass-scale industrial IoT solutions right here, right now. The advancements in technology are making space solutions more cost-efficient than ever before, it is time for companies to look to the stars for their digital transformation overhauls”.
Fleet Space Technologies
+61 8 7200 2633
8A Myer Court, Beverley
SA 5009, Australia
+49 6033 1817 900
Virginia Str. 24
35510 Butzbach, Germany
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