SpaceX

SpaceX acquires Swarm Technologies for 'Internet-of-Things devices' & adds the service to Starlink website menu

SpaceX acquires Swarm Technologies for 'Internet-of-Things devices' & adds the service to Starlink website menu

Swarm Technologies, Inc. was a startup working to build an Internet-of-Things (IoT) constellation of CubeSats (very small satellites) in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to provide mobile broadband data anywhere globally. SpaceX acquired Swarm Technologies in July 2021; It became a direct wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceX, according to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing.

SpaceX recently updated its Starlink.com satellite broadband service website and added “IoT” to the menu, the link leads to the Swarm Technologies page. The company markets the Swarm system as “global affordable connectivity” for Internet-of-Things applications. “Swarm provides the world’s lowest cost, global connectivity for IoT devices,” the website states. “Swarm provides low-bandwidth satellite connectivity for only $5/month using ultra-small satellites in a low orbit. Swarm satellites cover every point on Earth, enabling IoT devices to affordably operate in any location.” 

Swarm currently operates approximately 150 CubeSats called “SpaceBees”. “Swarm has the smallest operational satellites in space, at just ¼U (11 x 11 x 2.8 centimeters). Because of their small size, they cost much less to launch than most satellites, and we pass these savings along to our customers,” the website details. The tiny satellites are around the size of a sandwich (pictured below) and weigh around 5 pounds. The Swarm constellation operates at altitudes of 450 to 550 kilometers in LEO; each SpaceBee is equipped with small solar panels on the top and bottom. “The satellites are spread out like strings of pearls into a series of distributed sun-synchronous orbital planes. This configuration allows the satellites to maintain reliable global network coverage,” says the company.

Swarm SpaceBee satellite / Source: Swarm Technologies website

IoT customers include a wide variety of industries: agriculture, maritime, energy, environmental, and transportation sectors, where data connectivity is unreliable or unavailable in remote regions. A story about how engineers use Swarm to monitor forest fires is linked below. To connect to the Swarm satellites, the company sells three products: a small modem for $89 USD that is designed to be installed into any IoT device to transmit and receive “2-way data via Swarm’s satellite network. Designed to be embedded into a third-party IoT device. Data delivered via a REST API or Webhook to any cloud service.” The other product is an antenna that is currently priced at $449 USD, designed to “send 1-way messages or GPS positions from anywhere using a mobile phone app or laptop.” The company also sells ‘Swarm Asset Trackers’ which provide location data with 100% global coverage. The GPS tracker costs $99 USD at Swarm’s official website: https://swarm.space/store/. “Swarm designs and builds all the hardware, software, and protocols for our satellites and user modems in-house. Controlling the manufacturing chain end to end allows us to maintain the highest quality service and devices,” says the company. 

 

Featured Image Source: Swarm Technologies

 

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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