Featured Image Source: SpaceX
California-based Swarm Technologies aims to enable ‘global connectivity with the world’s first low-cost satellite network.’ Swarm and its mission manager Exolaunch of Germany, signed a deal with SpaceX to launch 24 SpaceBee satellites atop a Falcon 9 rocket under a SmallSat Rideshare Program contract. SpaceX’s rideshare program enables companies with a lower budget to launch satellites to space. Small satellites can hitch a ride with larger payloads for a price range starting at $1 million under the program, booking an entire Falcon 9 flight may cost over $60 million.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch the internet-beaming SpaceBee satellites in December this year. Swarm Technologies earned approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer internet service globally with a constellation consisting of 150 SpaceBee satellites. The satellites are very small compared to other satellites in orbit (pictured below), about one quarter the size of a CubeSat.
Swarm Technologies targets its service for poverty-stricken regions and agricultural areas where internet data and mobile connection is not easily accessible. "Swarm helps organizations deploy these devices in regions with poor communications infrastructure and connects people through text messages in locations without cellular or WiFi coverage." It also aims to offer its service to the automobile industry, "Top automakers plan to produce millions of connected cars over the next decade. Diagnostic data, performance data, and preventive maintenance are all integral to a flawless experience. Swarm’s reliable global network supports customers wherever they drive," the company says.
Source: Swarm Technologies
Exolaunch offers customers specialized equipment to arrange payloads of microsatellites. The company often books other rocket providers to launch its customers' payloads into orbit. It is the first time Exolaunch contracts SpaceX’s launch services. Exolaunch, will handle the launch and integration of the SpaceBee satellites, which will ride aboard EXOpod the company’s proprietary deployment system. SpaceX will deploy the satellites where they will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit. “Swarm is excited to start launching with Exolaunch, particularly given their successful deployment history with small satellites,” said Sara Spangelo, Chief Executive Officer of Swarm Technologies. “They’ve been great partners to work with so far and we look forward to launching with them!”
“Swarm’s nanosatellites network will significantly reduce costs for the end-user and enable wide adoption of the technology. It makes an excellent case for demonstrating possibilities of space economics,” Jeanne Medvedeva, Commercial Director at Exolaunch stated in a press release this week.
“Our team, experienced in handling large constellations of satellites, is ready to utilize its launch expertise and deployers to arrange the rides to space for Swarm aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9.”
Exolaunch has booked several Rideshare missions with SpaceX, scheduled for later this year. – “Exolaunch needs a simple, reliable, and cost-effective rideshare launch solution to best serve their customers. SpaceX is proud to earn their business, and we look forward to working with them on our first dedicated rideshare mission targeted for later this year,” SpaceX's Commercial Sales Vice President, Tom Ochinero, said in a statement.
“Participation in SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will allow Exolaunch to offer reliable and cost-efficient rideshare options out of the United States. Most of our customers have been proactively requesting such opportunities,” Medvedeva told reporters.