A dozen new nano-satellites Swarm into space

A dozen new nano-satellites Swarm into space

11 September 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Californian nano-satellite company Swarm has launched its first 12 commercial satellites into low-Earth orbit and is planning to announce prices and services.

French company Arianespace launched the 12 on a single Vega rocket from French Guiana in South America.

“Less than two hours after launch, our satellites were deployed from the rocket over Thailand,” said CEO and co-founder Sara Spangelo (pictured).

“Having settled into their new homes in low Earth orbit (LEO), we have made successful contact with all of them.”

The 12 join nine existing experimental satellites, and Swarm plans to increase its fleet in orbit to “150 commercial satellites within the next year”, said Spangelo.

The company raised $25 million in early 2019 to help fund its satellite-based internet-of-things (IoT) network

“We will be announcing our products and pricing in the coming weeks and starting to roll out commercial services shortly thereafter. We are incredibly excited to begin supporting customers with affordable, global data connectivity, allowing them to expand their reach at an unprecedented scale.”

Swarm, a small company, with a total workforce of 28, is working “with a number of prospective customers and partners across agriculture, energy, maritime, automotive, and global development industries”, said the company. It has already integrated one of its products into a customer’s commercial device.

“We’ve had huge success on the regulatory front,” said the company. “We now have certification to commercially sell our hardware products in most of the world, and continue to expand our international market access.”

It has ground stations across the world, including in the Antarctic – and at Goonhilly, BT’s pioneering ground station site in south-west England, used in the 1960s for the first transatlantic TV transmissions.

CTO and co-founder Benjamin Longmier wrote in a Swarm blog: “Despite their hardy construction, they are a fraction of the size of traditional ground stations, are much simpler to set up, and are designed to travel safely in checked luggage.”

He added: “Because of this, we are able to deploy the ground stations ourselves, saving us time and money, and enabling us to travel to some of the most remote regions in the world that will benefit from Swarm’s connectivity solutions in the future.”